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Full text of "Report of the Commissioner of Public Records"

ALLEN COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY 



3 1833 01892 4735 



GC 
974.4 
C737REP, 
1894 



UNITED STATES 



ON THE 

Custody and Condition of the 
Public Records 



PAKISHES, TOWNS, AND COUNTIES. 



BY 

ROBERT T. SWAN ; 

COMMISSIONER. 



BOSTON : 

WRIGHT & POTTER PRINTING CO., STATE PRINTERS, 

18 Post Office Square. 

1894. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 



http://archive.org/details/reportofcommissi1894mass 



Camm0itforaIt|j of UTassat^wsrfis. 



Office of the Commissioner of Public Records, 

9 Park Street, Boston, Mass., Jan. 3, 1894. 

To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives. 

I have the honor to submit the second report of this com- 
mission, being the sixth in the series of reports on public 
records. 

It is the duty of the commissioners to report to the Legis- 
lature such recommendations and suggestions as may seem 
important for the safety and benefit of the records, and such 
have been presented in previous reports. As the report 
submitted in 1893 was, upon the recommendation of the 
Committee of the Judiciary, referred to this General Court, 
it will be unnecessary to repeat the recommendations made 
therein. The reports have in previous years been referred 
to the Committee on the Judiciary, always an overburdened 
committee, with the result that sufficient time could not be 
given to hear the persons most interested in them and best 
informed as to the legislation required, or for the considera- 
tion of the general revision of the laws relating to the public 
records, which is imperatively necessary. It is, therefore, 
respectfully suggested that a joint special committee be ap- 
pointed to consider the matter of the care and custody of 
the records and such kindred subjects as would properly be 
within its province. 

Few persons unfamiliar with the records have an idea of 
the lack of uniformity in them. The statutes are indefinite 
in regard to the matter to be recorded, and especially as to 
who shall record it, and it is largely a matter of judgment 
among recording officers what they record and where they 



4 REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

record it. There have been some decisions upon this point 
which it would be well to incorporate in the laws. 

The town clerk is required to record many things "in a 
book kept for the purpose," and others " on the records of 
the town," there being no more reason why the latter should 
not be in separate books than that the former should be. 
Boards of health are not required to keep records, except a 
record of reports of contagious diseases ; yet their regula- 
tions, the record of land taken by them, and of places where 
offensive trades may be carried on < ' shall be entered on the 
records of the town.''' The town clerk has no official knowl- 
edge of their matters and cannot enter them on any records, 
and the board cannot enter them on his. The selectmen are 
not required to keep records of their proceedings and as a 
rule do not, but if there is no board of health they act as 
such and must carry out the above requirements. In addi- 
tion, they must record, " in a book kept for the purpose," 
every license issued to an auctioneer, and "their specifica- 
tions and decisions as to where and what posts may be 
erected and wires run for telegraph lines " must be recorded 
in the records of the town. Here again the clerk, unless he 
is clerk of the board, which is very unusual, knows nothing 
of the matter and cannot record it in his records, nor can 
they. 

The statutes are full of provisions that notices shall be 
given by or to the selectmen. If given by, no record is 
made, and if given to, they are not recorded or filed with 
the files of which the clerk is by law the custodian. Many 
public and private rights depend upon the serving and pre- 
serving of these notices. 

In some cases it is specified that the clerk shall record and 
certify matters of which he has no knowledge ; for instance, 
the selectmen appoint the keeper of the lockup and the clerk 
must record the appointment. He must send to the board 
of prison commissioners the name of the chief of police, 
and is under penalty if he neglects it, although he has no 
official knowledge of the appointment, and it is a question, 
moreover, whether such an officer exists under the statutes. 

The record made by a city or town clerk of a birth, mar- 
riage or death is by statute prima facie evidence of the fact, 



1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 5 

but in every city and in every town, so large that the clerk 
does not know the facts from general knowledge in the com- 
munity, a very considerable part of the records of births 
would not agree with the names Or dates which would be 
given in court by adults or the parents of children, and there 
is no legal way for the clerk to correct the record unless it is 
an error of his own making. 

Some clerks record as the father of an illegitimate child 
the person named by the mother, and such a record has been 
used in court ; others have awaited the decision of the court 
in bastardy proceedings before inserting the name of a father, 
wdiile as a rule either * ' unknown " is entered or a blank 
space is left to puzzle searchers of the records hereafter. 
Still-born children are entered as born in some records, 
died in some, and in some as both born and died. 

Bonds of certain town officers are to be filed i i with the 
town." The clerk is custodian of the files, and consequently 
is custodian of his bond for dog-license money, and if also 
treasurer or collector, of his bond as such. In one town a 
defaulting clerk and collector destroyed his bond. 

These and many other similar matters might well be con- 
sidered by a committee considering the subject of the records 
in general. 

Many shortcomings in the records are brought to my at- 
tention and complaints are made, sometimes by county or 
town officials, that the statute requirements are not complied 
with ; but, as stated in the third report, it is assumed that 
the province of the commissioner is to see that the records 
are safely and properly preserved, not that the recording 
officers do the recording properly. If, as some officials 
think, it was the intention of the Legislature to put this duty 
upon the commissioner, it should be more expressly stated. 

While much of this and previous reports is devoted to 
setting forth the defects in the system and customs prevail- 
ing in regard to the records, the fact should not be over- 
looked that there is a decided improvement in the care of 
them. There are few of the cities and towns where some- 
thing has not been done toward improvement, even if it was 
no more than to recover a single missing volume or to put 
one in a temporary place of safety, while some, from hav- 



6 REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

ing made no pretence of complying with the law, have made 
records absolutely safe from fire. The value of the records 
has been impressed upon those responsible for them, and 
recommendations in regard to record ink, binding, copying, 
printing, drying vaults, etc., have been adopted by many 
having the care of them. 

Two improvements are especially noted. Lowell, which 
in 1890 had no suitable place for the records of the various 
departments, is now the best equipped of any city, all the 
departments having plenty of vault room, and many of the 
vaults being fitted in metal. The records and "history 
blanks " of the overseers of the poor, which are of great 
pecuniary value to the cities, but are usually exposed to the 
danger of fire, are here provided for in a large vault, and 
the city engineer has a vault 16 feet square in which all water, 
sewer, street, and assessors' plans are kept, together with 
records of the committees on these departments. 

Rowley, in 1890, had a part of its records in a small safe 
in the clerk's dwelling, and others at the town hall, not in a 
safe. A building has been erected containing a room for 
the selectmen and a smaller for the clerk, with a vault 8 by 
10 feet, which is dry and light, and disproves the assertion 
that vaults cannot be made dry. The Lowell city hall is 
respectfully called to the attention of city governments, and 
the Rowley vault to selectmen. 

In the fourth report it was stated that Massachusetts had 
been the first State to move in the matter of the preserva- 
tion of the records, and was " already looked to by leading 
men in other States as an example." In January, 1892, the 
General Assembly of Rhode Island gave " the sanction of the 
State and a measure of aid " to the Rhode Island Historical 
Society in an attempt to preserve the records of the towns, 
and inquiry was commenced among the towns upon sub- 
stantially the. same plan pursued in this State, regarding the 
records in their possession, their condition and safety. The 
result was the publication by the society of a report of about 
eighty pages, prepared by Hon. Amos Perry, giving the 
report made by the several town clerks, together with much 
valuable information which cannot fail to encourage further 
action in that State. 



1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 



General Information on Records. 

The following additional information in regard to missing 
records and facts recorded has been gathered during the 
year, some being corrective of the facts reported in 1885 : — 

County of 'Barnstable. 

Provincetown. There are records of births as early as 1696. 
The record of marriages from 1798 to 1807 is missing, but inten- 
tions were recorded. All births to 1866, marriages to 1854, and 
deaths to 1861 have been copied. 

Wellfleet. The records from 1723 to 1763, the date of the 
establishment of the district of Wellfleet, are for the Precinct of 
Billingsgate or North Precinct. The records of births, marriages, 
and deaths did not begin until 1763. 

County of Berkshire. 

Alford. The record of births, marriages, and deaths begins 
in 1765, nine years before the establishment of the district. 

Hancock. The record of births, marriages, and deaths is not 
complete from 1776, as reported. There are a very few records 
of these from 1765 to 1832, more between 1832 and 1843, and 
they are complete from 1843. 

Lee. There is a copy of the records of the proprietors of Hart- 
wood from 1763 to 1777. 

Lenox. The record of town proceedings is complete from 1767. 
The record of births, marriages, and deaths from 1823 to 1843 is 
missing. 

Mount Washington. There are no records of births, marriages, 
and deaths prior to 1860 except of a few marriages from 1838 to 
1843. 

Richmond. Most of the records were burned in 1776. There 
are a few births earlier than that date recorded by families in the 
volume of proprietors' records, evidently taken from private 
sources. There are a few births and marriages as early as 1765 
in the volume of proceedings which begins in 1776. 

Sheffield. There are records of births, marriages, and deaths 
in various volumes of miscellaneous records, grouped as follows : 
1725 to 1782, 1774 to 1790, 1778 to 1791, and 1798 to 1846. 

County of Dukes County. 
Tisbury. The records of births, marriages, and deaths begin 
in 1666. The first volume has been copied. 



8 REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

County of Essex. 
Rowley. A copy has been made of baptisms, marriages, and 
deaths in the church records of the First and Second Parishes in 
the town of Rowley, and of Byfield and Linebrook Parishes, cover- 
ing years from 1665 to 1838. A fine index makes these most 
useful. 

County of Franklin. 

Deerfield. The records of the proprietors of Pocumtuck begin 
in 1670, not 1699, as reported, and are in possession of the town 
clerk. 

Leyden. The records of the proprietors of Falltown Gore from 
1765 to 1787, and the records of the district of Leyden from 1784 
to 1808, precede the records of the town. 

Northfield. The volume of town proceedings covering the 
years from 1723 to 1766 is not now missing. 

Sunderland. The first records, beginning in 1714, refer to the 
location of " the place " in 1673 and to the absence of records. 

Warwick. The plantation called Roxbury Canada was estab- 
lished as Warwick. The proprietors' records call it " Gardner's 
Township, east of Northfield," and contain a list of the petitioners 
of Roxbury and Brookline. 

Whately. The records of births, marriages, and deaths prior 
to 1848 are missing. 

County of Hampden. 

Agawam. The, town has a volume containing the records of 
the Sixth Precinct of Springfield from Feb. 2, 1758, to Dec. 2, 
1763 ; the Fifth Precinct in Springfield from March 25, 1764, to 
Nov. 3, 1773; and of the Second Precinct in West Springfield 
from March 24, 1774, to Sept. 10, 1836. 

Brimfield. The record of marriages from 1843 to 1855 is 
missing. 

Chester. The proprietors' records have been recovered from 
private possession. The proprietors' are called " Proprietors of a 
township of land sold by the Province in June last" (1762) " to 
John Chandler " (and others named), " called No. 9, alias Murray 
Field." 

Granville. The field-book of Capt. Nathaniel Dwight, " Sur- 
veyor of the Several Alotmentts in Bedford, so called," afterward 
Granville, made in 1731, is in private possession in Belchertown. 

Longmeadow. The town has a record which may be of great 
value to genealogists, bearing this title: "Records of families 
principally such as belonged to Longmeadow or were somewhere 



1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 9 

connected with those families ; containing dates of the times of 
marriage, births, and deaths, and some account of what became 
of the children of the families so far as these several things are 
known." This information is taken from public records in various 
places, principally Springfield. 

Palmer. The proprietors' records have been returned to the 
town clerk. 

Wales. Records of all kinds were reported in 1885 as begin- 
ning in 1790. Inspection shows this to be incorrect. One volume 
contains records of district and town meetings from 17C2, the 
date of the establishment of the district of South Brimneld, to 
1785; one has parish meetings from 17G6 to 1783, and in the 
reverse district and town meetings from 1766 to 1790. There is 
a copy only of births and deaths from 1762 to 1823, some original 
entries to 1843 being in the same volume. There is no record of 
marriages prior to 1844 or of intentions prior to 1840. 

Westfield. The proprietors' records contain the records of 
town meetings held in Springfield as early as 1666. An ancient 
copy of the records of births, marriages, and deaths contains the 
earliest, beginning about 1669, continued with original entries. 

Wilbraham. The first volume of proceedings begins with the 
record of inhabitants of the Third Division of the Outward Com- 
mons of Springfield, March 12, 1741, continued as of the Fourth 
Precinct in Springfield to March 21, 1763, three months before the 
establishment of Wilbraham. 



County of Hampshire. 

Easthampton. There is no record of births from 1813 to 1844, 
and none of deaths until 1844. The record of marriages is com- 
plete. 

Granby. The record of births, marriages, and deaths begins in 
1768. The first volume of proprietors' records begins March 14, 
1720, and ends April 7, 1769, the second volume, from which eight 
pages are missing, beginning Feb. 15, 1770. 

Greenwich. The proprietors' records begin in 1733, under the 
following title : " Book of Records of the tract of land granted to 
part of the Narragansett Soldiers as per a list of their names 
herein entered, and is called No. 4 on the west side of Merrimack 
River at Amoskeage." Another volume begins June 29, 1749, 
with a record of the " Place called Quabin for that part of the 
Narragansett township No. 4 lying at said Quabin," and con- 
tinues as a parish record until Dec. 17, 1753, the town record 
beginning Feb. 17, 1755. The regular volume of town proceedings 



10 REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

begins in 1754, and contains such births, marriages, and deaths as 
were recorded at that time. 

Hatfield. One volume of proprietors' records is of " Denni- 
son's and Bradstreets's farms," the other being of the " Com- 
moners Outside Lands," including Hunstown, afterward Ashfield, 
and lands between, which might include parts of Conway, Goshen, 
Whately, and Williamsburg. There is a volume containing births, 
marriages, and deaths in Hadley, Hatfield, and Northampton, 
which is evidently one of the early volumes of records of the 
Hampshire County courts. 

Southampton. There is a volume of the records of the " Pro- 
prietors of the Common and Undivided land within the township 
of Northampton" from Jan. 10, 1730, to May 8, 1780. Another 
volume contains the record of the " Second Precinct of Northamp- 
ton" from Sept. 21, 1741, to the establishment of the district of 
Southampton, in 1753. 

South Hadley. A pamphlet contains the records of the " South 
Precinct of Hadley" from March 12, 1733, to Jan. 8, 1753. A 
volume contains the records of the " First Parish of South Hadley " 
from June 4, 1762, to March 14, 1768. A note following the last 
entry says, as the Second Parish was set off and the first made a 
district, there was no need of a parish record, and the volume was 
sold to "the Proprietors." Their record, without a title, begins 
Jan. 25, 1720, and ends in 1817. A second volume of their records 
begins April 14, 1800, and ends Dec. 29, 1835. 

County of Middlesex. 
Marlborough. A number of loose leaves containing the only 
list known to exist of the proprietors of the west part of Marl- 
borough, called Chauncey, afterward established as Westborough, 
and giving a description of many of the original lay outs of pro- 
prietors' lots, with a map of the whole tract, have been recovered, 
bound, and sent to the city clerk of Marlborough. 

County of Plymouth. 

Middleborough. Four volumes of original proprietors' records 
have been recovered. These are the records of the " Little lot 
men's purchase," "Twelve men's purchase," "Sixteen shilling 
purchase," and " Five men's purchase." They contain also rec- 
ords of town meetings, and births, marriages, and deaths. 

Wareham. The records of the " Proprietors of the Agawam 
Precinct in Wareham " have been copied at the registry of deeds 
at Plymouth. These have always been in private possession and 
are allowed to remain there for safety. 



1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 11 

County of Worcester. 

Ashburnham. The records are complete from the establish- 
ment of the town in 1765. 

Petersham. The record of deaths prior to 182G was proba- 
bly burned. The proprietors' records, beginning in 1733, are in 
possession of the town clerk. 

Town Recokds. 
The condition of affairs pertaining to the records in the 
towns visited for the first time is herewith presented, with 
the date of visit. 

Agawam (June 30, 1893) . Two brick town halls, one at Agawam 
and one at Feeding Hills. The selectmen have a,n office in the 
latter, and a large safe to be placed there was expected to arrive 
July 5. The clerk has a safe of his own in his dwelling at Feed- 
ing Hills, in which he keeps what records it will contain. The 
records are all in good condition. The valuation lists for 1878 
and 1879 are missing. The marriage certificates and burial returns 
have been preserved since 1888, during the present clerk's term of 
office. The collectors' records have not been returned to the town, 
although a few have recently been procured. The rebellion record 
has been written up. 

Alford (Oct. 13, 1893). Wooden town hall. There is a small 
old safe of doubtful value used for minor records, in a small room 
there. The recent valuation lists are kept in a room on the 
second floor, used as the assessors' office, those from 1824 nearly 
complete to 1860 being in an old chest. The clerk has most of 
the records in a closet at his house, in unusually good condition, 
with the exception of an old volume which it would be well to 
bind. The marriage certificates and burial returns have been pre- 
served since 1877. The collectors' records have not been returned 
to the town, but some have been collected under the new law. 
The rebellion record has been written up. 

Becket (July 20, 1893). Wooden town hall at Becket Centre, 
used only as such. There is a wooden building at Becket Station 
used for a corporation library, where the selectmen have an office, 
but no safe. The valuation lists and the papers not in the clerk's 
possession are kept here. The clerk has a small town safe in his 
store near, where he keeps his records. The valuation lists are in 
bound volumes from 1828, and there are older ones in pamphlets 



12 REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

in a chest in the selectmen's room, containing also miscellaneous 
papers recently brought to the office from the home of one of the 
selectmen. The marriage certificates and burial returns have been 
preserved since 1888, during the term of the present clerk, and 
there are some scattering ones earlier. The town has for some 
years required the collectors to return their records. No volume 
of the rebellion record can be found. 

Bernardston (Sept. 12, 1893). Wooden town hall, containing 
the selectmen's office. In the Cushman Library building there is 
a small vault, so narrow as to be almost inaccessible, where all the 
records are kept except a few which the clerk is obliged to keep at 
his house, for which no safe is provided. The records are in good 
condition with the exception of the first volume of births, mar- 
riages, and deaths, which needs binding. The valuation lists 
are nearly complete, the earlier ones being in pamphlets. The 
clerk is also treasurer. The marriage certificates and burial returns 
have all been preserved since 1887, and there are some earlier ones. 
The collectors' records have not been returned, but those for the 
last ten years have been obtained. The rebellion record is 
written up. 

Blandford (July 17, 1893). No town hall. The town office 
is in a building used in part for a school-house. There is a large 
safe there, new in 1890, used by the selectmen and assessors, and 
by the clerk for such records as he has not room for in the small 
town safe at his dwelling, where his records are kept. The records 
are in good condition with the exception of the first and second 
volumes, which need binding. The valuation lists are nearly com- 
plete from 1819, the earlier ones being in pamphlets, and there is 
a copy from 1816 to 1824, inclusive. The marriage certificates 
and burial returns have been preserved for about fifteen years. 
The collectors' records have not been returned to the town. The 
rebellion record has been written up. The records of many births, 
marriages, and deaths have faded so badly that it has been neces- 
sary to trace them. 

Broifield (May 26, 1893). Wooden town hall, containing a 
very large safe and a smaller one. The clerk has a small safe of 
his own in his dwelling, where a few of the current records are 
kept. All the other records of the town which have come into 
the clerk's custody are kept in one or the other of the safes in the 
hall. The present clerk has procured all records obtainable and 
everything is kept in a most systematic manner. All the old files 
have been or are being arranged ; there are, however, very many 



1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 13 

papers and possibly some records at the dwelling of a former clerk, 
arrangements for procuring which have now been made. Valua- 
tion lists from 1783 are bound, and earlier ones may be found 
among the papers referred to. The marriage certificates and burial 
returns, bearing date as early as 18G7, were found there. All the 
ancient records which were worn have been rebound, and all are 
in excellent condition. The collectors' records have not been re- 
turned to the town. 

Cheshire (Oct. 11, 1893). Wooden town hall, used for meet- 
ings only. A small wooden building contains the town office, and 
there is a large safe there, new in 1890, and a very small one which 
has been through a fire ; the latter, however, would probably pro- 
tect its contents in this building. The records are in one safe or 
the other. The valuation lists for 1814, 1817, 1819, and from 
1821 to 1893 were in the safe. The marriage certificates and 
burial returns have been preserved since 1872. The collectors' 
records have not been returned, but quite a number have been 
recovered under the new law. The rebellion record has been 
written up. 

Chester (July 19, 1893). Wooden town hall. A brick build- 
ing standing alone, built in 1890 for a town office and lockup, con- 
tains a very large vault in which all the records and papers of the 
town are kept. There is a small safe in the vault, used by the 
selectmen. The valuation lists to 1824 were all copied in the 
record of town proceedings, and there are lists for 1830 and 1831, 
and from 1841 to 1893, in the vault. Marriage certificates and 
burial returns have been preserved during the present clerk's term, 
from 1875. The collectors' records have not been returned to the 
town. The rebellion record has not been written up. The pro- 
prietors' records, which were bought some years ago by a citizen of 
the town, have been recovered ; they are now in good condition, 
and in addition to the plots contained in the records there is a 
large plan on parchment of the whole grant to the proprietors. 

Chilmark (Sept. 1, 1893). Wooden town hall, used for meet- 
ings only. There is a worthless safe in a vacant house of the 
clerk's, near his dwelling, in which all the records are kept with 
the exception of the valuation lists, which are at the town hall, not 
in a safe. The records are in good condition. The marriage cer- 
tificates and burial returns have been preserved only since 1890. 
The collectors' records have not been returned to the town, but the 
clerk has obtained some under the new law. There is no volume 
for the rebellion record. 



14 REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

Clarksburg (Oct. 10, 1893). The clerk, who is also treasurer 
and collector, has a safe of his own and two old ones belonging to 
the town in his store, in a wooden building at Briggsville. These 
are wholly inadequate for the records, the town safes being un- 
doubtedly worthless. The earliest volume of town proceedings is 
called the third book and begins in 1855, two volumes, covering 
the years from 1798 to that time, being missing. A large book- 
case in the store contained valuation lists from 1801 to 1814. A. 
copy of the lists from 1836 to 1860 in one volume was in a safe, 
the later valuation lists being elsewhere in the store and in posses- 
sion of the chairman of the assessors. There were many files of 
papers in drawers in the bookcase. The marriage certificates and 
burial returns have been preserved for a number of years. The 
collectors' records have not been returned, but most of those from 
1881 have been secured under the law. No volume of the rebellion 
record was found. 

Dana (July 18, 1893). Wooden town hall at Dana Centre, in 
which a vault is being constructed that will soon be ready for 
occupancy. The clerk has an old safe belonging to the town in 
his store in a hotel building at North Dana. All of his records 
and valuation lists from 1801 to 1863, with the exception of 1808, 
which is missing, are in the safe. Later valuation lists and files 
of papers are not in the safe. The marriage certificates and burial 
returns have been preserved since about 1870. The rebellion 
record has been written up. The collectors' records have all been 
recovered by the clerk. 

Deerfield (Sept. 13, 1893). Wooden town hall, used for 
school purposes also, in which the selectmen have a room. There 
are two old safes there of doubtful value, one used by the clerk 
and containing all his records, except the current volume of pro- 
ceedings and record of mortgages. The lock on the other safe is 
out of repair, and the safe has not been opened for at least six 
years, none of the present town officers knowing its contents. The 
first and second volumes are in a very dilapidated condition and 
should be bound, and the second should be copied. The valuation 
lists, nearly complete from 1848, are at the town hall, not in a 
safe* and the earlier ones are in a dwelling, not in a safe. The 
burial returns have been preserved for a few years, but the mar- 
riage certificates have not. The rebellion record has been written 
up. The collectors' records have not been returned to the town. 

Eastham (Sept. 5, 1893.) Wooden town hall, used for meet- 
ings only. A vault has been completed for a long time, but has 



1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 15 

not been properly dried out for use. The clerk has a very small 
town safe in his dwelling for his use as clerk and treasurer, but it is 
capable of holding but a small part of his records. All the others, 
including the valuation lists, complete from 1797, and files of 
papers, are stored in various parts of his house. The records are 
in good condition with the exception of twenty-five loose leaves, 
called the second book, which are laid in paper covers. The 
original records of the town were retained in Orleans when that 
part of the town was set off, but there is an ancient copy in 
Eastham. The original volume of town records begins in 1797. 
The collectors' records have not been returned to the town, and 
there is no volume of the rebellion record. 

Easthampton (Sept. 15, 1893) . Brick town hall, used for town 
purposes, in which all the boards have offices. There is a large 
safe there, of doubtful value in so large a building, used by the 
clerk for such records as are not in his store, and by the assessors 
for the later valuation lists. The clerk has a town safe in his 
store, new in 1893, where the current records are kept. The 
records are in good condition with the exception of the first 
volume, which needs binding. The valuation lists for scattering 
years between 1794 and 1827 are in sheets, and were found in 
closets with unimportant papers. Later lists, in pamphlets, were 
in racks in the hall, not in a safe. The marriage certificates and 
burial returns have been preserved since 1887. The collectors' 
records have not been returned to the town, but a few have been 
collected under the new law. The rebellion record has been 
written up. 

Egremont (Oct. 13, 1893). Wooden town hall, containing the 
selectmen's room. There is a small safe, probably worthless in 
this building, crowded so full as to injure the records. They are 
in good condition with the exception of a volume of the pro- 
prietors' records, which is very dilapidated. There is a copy of 
this, however, at the registry of deeds at Great Barrington. Two 
small boxes of miscellaneous papers contain valuation lists for 
scattering years from 1825 to 1840 ; from that date they are com- 
plete, but are in cases and lying about the room in the town hall. 
Some volumes of miscellaneous records were not in the safe. The 
marriage certificates and burial returns have all been preserved 
from 1866 to 1878 and from 1887 to date. The collectors' records 
have not been returned, but many have been recovered under the 
new law. The rebellion record has been written up. 



16 REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

Enfield (July 18, 1893). Brick town hall, used also for a 
school-house and for the public library. The selectmen have an 
office there, with an enormous safe, in which all the records and 
nearly all the papers of the town are kept. The clerk has a small 
town safe in his dwelling, where the current records are kept. 
The valuation lists are complete and are all bound. The marriage 
certificates and burial returns have been preserved since 1889. 
The collectors' records have not been returned to the town. The 
rebellion record has been written up. 

Erving (May 23, 1893). Wooden town hall, used only for 
meetings. The selectmen have their room in an engine-house, 
where there is a very small safe containing very few records. The 
clerk has a small safe at his house, but insufficient for his needs. 
The later valuation lists are kept in the safe at the engine-house ; 
there are no very early ones and no files of ancient papers, the 
supposition being that they were burned. The marriage certifi- 
cates and burial returns have not been preserved. The rebellion 
record has been written up. 

Florida (Oct. 10, 1893). Wooden town hall at Hoosac Tun- 
nel, used also as a school-house. There is a large safe, new in 
1890, in which all the records are kept except the current ones r 
which are at the clerk's house, three miles awaj 7 , not in a safe. 
There are no valuation lists earlier than 1860 and no files of early 
papers. A clerk's house burned about fifteen years ago, and prob- 
ably many papers and minor records were then destroyed. The 
marriage certificates and burial returns have been preserved for 
only two years, the present clerk's term. The collectors' records 
have not been returned to the town, but many have been recovered 
under the new law. There is no volume of the rebellion record. 

Gay Head (Sept. 1, 1893). No town hall or town office and 
no safe for the town's use. The clerk who was elected this year 
has had no records earlier than the volume commencing in 1889 
transmitted to him , and their whereabouts is unknown. The records 
in his custody are kept in his dwelling in the town during the 
winter, and taken to a summer hotel kept by him during the sum- 
mer season. The valuation lists are in the house of the chairman 
of the selectmen. The marriage certificates and burial returns 
have been preserved since 1886. The collectors' records have not 
been returned to the town. 

Gill (Sept. 12, 1893). Wooden town hall at Gill Centre, where 
the selectmen's office is located. The clerk has a small safe at his 



1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 17 

dwelling at Iliverside, three miles from the hall, which is filled 
with part of his records, many others being kept in closets. The 
valuation lists are in cases in the town hall, and many of the 
very oldest are among them. The burial returns have all been 
preserved during the term of the present clerk, two years, and the 
certificates of marriage for about forty years. The collectors' 
records have not been returned to the town. There is no volume 
of the rebellion record. 

Gosnold (July 12, 1893). No town hall. A frame building 
was built about four years ago on the island of Cuttyhunk, which 
is used as a town office, and contains also the public library. There 
is a safe there containing the valuation lists. The first floor of the 
meeting-house is used as a school-room, and on this floor there is 
a safe containing all the town clerk's records. The records are all 
in good condition and everything is in excellent order. The val- 
uation lists are complete. The marriage certificates and burial 
returns have been preserved during the term of the present clerk, 
about nine years. The collectors' records have not been returned 
to the town, but those for the last ten years are preserved ; earlier 
ones were irregularly kept, and but few, such as they are, have 
been preserved. No volume of the rebellion record is in existence. 

Granby (Sept. 14, 1893). An old town hall is used for meet- 
ings only, and there is a new wooden town hall used for the town 
library, schools, and the town office. There is a safe there, new 
about 1890, full of the various records of the town. The records 
are in good condition with the exception of the first volume, which 
needs binding. There are valuation lists in pamphlets for nine 
occasional years from 1783 to 1797, and nearly if not quite com- 
plete from 1803. The marriage certificates and burial returns 
have nearly all been preserved since 1881. The collectors' rec- 
ords have not been returned to the town. The rebellion record has 
not been written up. 

Greenwich (July 18, 1893). Wooden town hall, used partly 
as a school-house. The clerk has a small town safe at his store at 
Greenwich Village, where his records are kept. They are in good 
condition with the exception of the volume of proprietors' records, 
and the earliest record of births, marriages, and deaths, which is 
on loose leaves or on pages stitched together, unbound. The val- 
uation lists for recent years are in the custody of the assessors, 
not in safes ; the older ones for occasional years from 1791 are in 
pamphlets in the clerk's store, not in a safe. The marriage certifi- 



18 REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

cates have been preserved since 1881. The collectors' records 
have not been returned to the town, but a few of them have been 
obtained by the clerk. The rebellion record was written up in 
the blotter, but has not been copied into the bound volume fur- 
nished by the State. There is a chest of old papers stored in the 
clerk's store. 

Hampden (June 30, 1893). No town hall. The clerk's records 
are kept in his dwelling, not in a safe. The chairman of the 
selectmen has a safe in his dwelling in which the clerk keeps the 
current volume of town proceedings, and the chairman a copy of 
the valuation lists of Wilbraham from 1798, and of those of Hamp- 
den since the division of the town. The valuation lists are kept at 
the houses of the assessors. The marriage certificates and burial 
returns have all been preserved. The collectors' records have not 
been returned. The record of soldiers in the rebellion is con- 
tained in the rebellion record of Wilbraham. 

Hancock (Oct. 14, 1893). Wooden town hall, in which the 
clerk has a room. There is a very large safe there, new in 1892, 
and in it all the town records are kept, everything being in most 
excellent order and the earliest records being in an unusually good 
state of preservation. The valuation lists from 1811 to 1819 have 
been kept in one substantial volume, and those from 1855 to 1870 
in another ; the later ones being preserved and all in the safe. 
The marriage certificates and burial returns have been preserved 
since 1887. The collectors' records have not been returned, but 
several have been recovered under the new law. The rebellion 
record has been written up. 

Hatfield (Sept. 13, 1893). Wooden town hall, containing the 
selectmen's office. There is a small old safe there, used for the 
early valuation lists. The clerk has all his records in his dwelling, 
not in a safe. The memorial building, intended to be fire-proof, 
is nearly completed, and all the records will soon be transferred to 
it. The two volumes of proprietors' records and the first of town 
proceedings are in bad condition and need binding. There is one 
volume here containing births, marriages, and deaths in Hadley, 
Hatfield, and Northampton, which was evidently one of the vol- 
umes belonging with the Hampshire County records. The births, 
marriages, and deaths in Hadley and Hatfield, which were con- 
tained in this volume, have been copied, as have all the births, 
marriages, and deaths contained in the early town records, and 
such church and private records as the clerk could consult. One 



1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 19 

volume of the proprietors' records has been wholly and the other 
partially copied. The collectors' records have not been returned 
to the town, but several have been obtained under the new law. 
The marriage certificates and burial returns have been preserved 
since 1887. The rebellion record has been written up. 

Hinsdale (July 21, 1893). Wooden town hall, containing the 
town office. There is a small safe there, in which important papers 
are kept carefully filed. The clerk has a town safe in his store, in 
which all the records are kept. The valuation lists are nearly if 
not quite complete from 1795 to 1830 in pamphlets, and in bound 
volumes since. The marriage certificates and burial returns have 
all been preserved from 1873, and nearly all from 1869. The col- 
lectors' records had not been returned to the town, but the clerk 
has recovered all but two or three of the last thirty. There is no 
volume for the rebellion record ; the clerk has, however, re- 
covered an enlistment roll dated Sept. 4, 1862. 

Holland (May 25, 1893). Wooden town hall, used in part for 
a school-house. There is a large safe there, containing such records 
as are not at the clerk's house. The clerk has a small safe in his 
dwelling, in which the current records and the early records of 
births, marriages, and deaths are kept. The two earliest books of 
births, marriages, and deaths are very small, without covers, and 
need binding. The other records are in good condition. The valu- 
ation lists have been preserved since 1800, the earlier ones being 
in sheets. The marriage certificates and burial returns have been 
preserved since 1890, the term of the present clerk- The collectors' 
records have not been returned to the town, but a few have recently 
been recovered. The rebellion record has been written up. 

Huntington (July 19, 1893). Wooden town hall, containing a 
safe, new about 1890, in which are the valuation lists and select- 
men's records. The clerk has a small town safe in his shop, ad- 
joining his dwelling, in which his records are kept. The records 
are all in good condition except the first volume, which needs 
binding and copying. Some of the least important records are on 
shelves in this shop. The valuation lists, partially complete from 
1795 to 1846, are in pamphlets. The marriage certificates and 
burial returns have been preserved since about 1880. The col- 
lectors' records have not been returned to the town, but some have 
been recovered under the new law. 

Lanesborough (Oct. 14, 1893). Brick town hall, used for 
meetings only. A stone building is used for the public library 



20 REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

and as a town office. There is a small safe there, to which I could 
not gain access. The clerk has all his records in his house, not in 
a safe. The records are in good condition with the exception of a 
volume of proprietors' records and the first volume of proceedings. 
The valuation lists for 1803, 1806 to 1808, 1814, 1818 to 1822, 
1827, and 1829 to 1843 have been bound in thin volumes contain- 
ing a few years each, and are in an excellent state of preservation. 
These, with the later valuation lists, are in the town office, not in 
a safe. Many marriage certificates and burial returns were found 
in a chest, but the elates were not accessible. No information 
could be obtained in regard to the collectors' records or the rebel- 
lion record. Neither were in the custody of the present clerk, 
who is acting temporarily by appointment. The town has been 
unfortunate in having five clerks within ten years. 

Lee (Oct. 12, 1893) . Town hall in the brick memorial building. 
The town office has recently been removed into a wooden business 
block. There are four safes, one each for the clerk, selectmen, 
assessors, and treasurer. The clerk's safe is, however, of doubtful 
value in a building of this size. The records are in good condition, 
with the exception of the first volume of town proceedings, which 
has, however, been copied. The valuation lists from 1871 are in 
the safe. Two trunks are filled with old valuation lists and mis- 
cellaneous papers, in bad order, and there are files of papers in 
cases. The marriage certificates and burial returns have been pre- 
served since 1882, the term of the present clerk, and there are 
occasional ones for earlier years. The collectors' records have 
been partially returned to the town. There is no rebellion record. 

Lenox (Oct. 11, 1893). Wooden town hall, used for meetings 
only. The town office is in the Charles Sedgwick Library build- 
ing, formerly the Berkshire County court-house. A large safe is 
filled with the town records, which are in good condition, some 
having been renovated. A large collection of papers, valuation 
lists, and minor records are in cases in the office. Valuation lists 
from 1806 in pamphlet, and bound from 1808 to date, are there. 
The marriage certificates and burial returns have been preserved 
for a very long period, the dates not being easily ascertainable. 
Most of the collectors' records have been returned to the town. 
The rebellion record has been written up. 

Letden (Sept. 12, 1893). Wooden town hall, containing the 
selectmen's office and public library. There is an old safe of 
doubtful value in the clerk's store, which is filled with the various 



1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 21 

records. This is too full for the proper arrangement of the records, 
and there are many miscellaneous records which should be kept in 
the safe. The first volume of proceedings of the district of Leyden 
and the volume of proprietors' records are in bad condition and 
need binding. No valuation lists were found or are known to exist 
earlier than 1854. The marriage certificates and burial returns 
have been preserved only since 1890. The collectors' records 
have not been returned to the town, but those for nine years have 
been recovered under the new law. There is no volume of the 
rebellion record. 

Longmeadow (July 30, 1893). Stone town hall at East Long- 
meadow, with a large vault, recently constructed, used by the 
selectmen and assessors for their records, and by the clerk for 
the storage of papers. The clerk has a town safe at his dwelling, 
where all his records are kept. The records are all in good con- 
dition. The valuation lists from 1799 to 1833 are unbound; all 
since are bound and preserved. The marriage certificates and 
burial returns have been preserved during the present clerk's term, 
four years, and many old ones are in the vault, some bearing date 
as early as 1856. The collectors' records have not been returned 
to the town. The rebellion record has been written up. 

Ludlow (June 29, 1893) . Wooden town hall at Ludlow Centre. 
The selectmen have a room in a wooden building at Ludlow, occu- 
pied in part by stores and by a public hall. There is a large safe 
there. The clerk has a safe, which the town has lately provided, 
in his store, and the records which were recently moved from the 
town hall are in one or the other of these safes. There is a large 
collection of old papers at the town hall, although such as were 
thought to be important have been placed in the safe. The mar- 
riage certificates and burial returns have been preserved during the 
term of the present clerk, and earlier ones are probably among the 
papers at the town hall. The collectors' records have not been 
returned to the town, but a few have recently been recovered. 
The valuation lists from 1791 to 1795, 1799 to 1807, 1811 to 1817, 
1819 to 1823, and 1825 to 1836 are in pamphlets, all since being 
bound. The rebellion record has been written up. 

Middlefield (July 20, 1893). Wooden town hall, used also 
for a school-room and the town library. There is no town office. 
There is a safe at the town hall, new in 1892, containing such of 
the clerk's records as are not kept in a small town safe at his dwell- 
ing and the valuation lists from 1860. The records are in good 



22 REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

condition, with the exception of one or two of the earliest volumes. 
There are chests of old papers in the custody of members of the 
board of selectmen, and files of papers in the clerk's dwelling, not 
in safes. The valuation lists earlier than 1860 are not in a safe. 
The marriage certificates have all been preserved for about ten 
years, and there are more or less of them for forty years. The 
collectors' records have not been returned to the town, but the 
clerk has obtained several. 

Monroe (Oct. 10, 1893). Wooden town hall, used for meetings 
only. The clerk is treasurer and collector also. He has a very 
small and undoubtedly worthless town safe in his store, in a 
wooden building, at Monroe Bridge, which contains his records. 
The valuation lists are in possession of individual members of the 
board of assessors, two of the later ones, however, being in the 
clerk's store. The clerk knows of no records or papers other than 
the few records in his possession, and the marriage certificates and 
burial returns preserved during his term of office, two years. The 
collectors' records have not been returned or recovered. No re- 
bellion record was known of. 

Monson (May 10, 1893). Granite town hall, containing a good 
vault, in which all the records of all the boards except the school 
committee, are kept. The records are in good condition with the 
exception of the first and second volumes of town proceedings, 
and the first of births, marriages, and deaths, which need binding. 
The valuation lists are preserved from 1804, with the exception of 
a few. All the records of the collectors, except five, have been 
recovered within two years. The marriage certificates and burial 
returns have been preserved since 1889 only. The rebellion rec- 
ord has been written up. 

Montague (Sept. 12, 1893). Brick town hall at Montague 
Centre, containing the selectmen's room and town library. The 
town clerk has a safe of his own in his business office, in a brick 
block at Turner's Falls, six miles from the town hall. In this he 
keeps a few records. There is a town office in a brick business 
block at Turner's Falls, where there is a large vault, in which part 
of the clerk's records, some valuation lists, and some files of papers 
are kept. There is also a large safe in the town lockup, which 
contains part of the later valuation lists and some miscellaneous 
records. There are many papers and some miscellaneous records 
at the town hall, not in a safe. With the exception of the first 
volume of the record of town proceedings, which should be bound 



1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 23 

and copied, all the records are in good condition. The marriage 
certificates and burial returns since 1887 have been preserved and 
are in possession of the clerk, and there are doubtless earlier ones 
at the town hall. The collector's records have not been returned 
to the town. There was no volume of the rebellion record. 

Montgomery (July 19, 1893). Wooden town hall, used only 
as such. A closet there contained valuation lists in pamphlets 
for 1830 and most of the years from 1836 to 1847, and the later 
valuation books from 1861 to 1889, the still later lists being in 
possession of the assessors, none being in safes. There is a small 
town safe in the unoccupied dwelling of the previous clerk, in 
which the clerk keeps his records. They are all in good condition 
except the first volume, containing town proceedings and births, 
marriages, and deaths, which needs binding. The collectors' rec- 
ords have not been returned to the town. The rebellion record 
has been written up. 

Mount Washington (Oct. 13, 1893). Wooden town hall, used 
for meetings only. The clerk has a very small town safe in his 
dwelling, which is filled with his records. The records are in good 
condition with the exception of the first volume of proprietors' 
records, which is very dilapidated. There is a copy of this, how- 
ever, in the registry of deeds at Great Barrington. The valuation 
lists from 1860, with the exception of 1875 and 1877, which are 
at the clerk's house, are in a room at the town hall, not in a safe. 
The marriage certificates and burial returns, if preserved, have not 
been transmitted to the present clerk, just elected. The collectors' 
records have not been returned, but several have been collected 
under the new law. The rebellion record has been written up. 
There is no accumulation of old papers, a fire some years ago 
having probably destroyed them, together with the valuation lists 
prior to 1860. 

New Ashford (Oct. 14, 1893). No town hall or town office. 
The clerk has a very old safe in his dwelling, in which his records 
are kept. The valuation lists and all the files of papers are in the 
clerk's attic, excepting the valuation lists from 1842 to 1863, which 
are in two small volumes in a safe. The marriage certificates and 
burial returns have been preserved during the present clerk's term, 
twenty years. The collectors' records have not been returned to 
the town, but some have been collected under the new law. There 
is no volume of the rebellion record. 



24 KEPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

New Salem (July 18, 1893). Wooden town hall. The only 
safe is a small one belonging to the town and kept at the clerk's 
store, which contains all his records. The valuation lists for the 
last five years are at the town hall, not in a safe ; the others, from 
1855, when all the town records were burned, being in the posses- 
sion of a former member of the board of selectmen who had recently 
moved from town. There are some files of papers at the hall, and 
some in possession of the family of the former clerk. The mar- 
riage certificates and burial returns have been preserved since 1890, 
and there maybe earlier ones among the papers of the former clerk. 
The rebellion record was written up in the blotter, but never copied 
in the bound volume furnished by the State. 

Northfield (Sept. 11, 1893). Wooden town hall, containing 
the town office, in which there is a very large safe and a small old 
one. These are used in common by the clerk and assessors. No 
safe is furnished the clerk for the records he is obliged to keep at 
his house. The clerk is also treasurer. Some records and papers 
are said to be in chests in the town hall, but access could not be 
gained to them. The proprietors' records and the first volume of 
births, marriages, and deaths are in bad condition and need bind- 
ing. The valuation lists are complete from 1827, and there are 
probably earlier ones in the chests referred to. The marriage cer- 
tificates and burial returns have been preserved during the term of 
the present clerk, five years, and there are doubtless earlier ones 
in the chests. The collectors' records have not been returned, but 
volumes for about twenty-five years have been collected under the 
new law. The rebellion record has been written up. 

Peru (July 21, 1893). Wooden town hall, where there is an 
empty second-hand safe, which, owing to a broken lock, cannot be 
opened. A desk in the hall contained index books to births, mar- 
riages, and deaths, and a few marriage certificates and burial re- 
turns, some as early as 1856. The clerk has no safe provided for 
his records, the records and such papers as are in his possession 
being in his dwelling. The first volume of records is in bad con- 
dition and needs binding. The valuation lists are complete from 
1825, and are in possession of the chairman of the selectmen, not 
in a safe. The marriage certificates and burial returns for recent 
years have not been preserved. The collectors' records have not 
been returned to the town. No rebellion record was found. 

Petersham (May 16, 1893). Wooden town hall, containing a 
large safe, new in 1891. There is also a small safe, new in 1892, 
at the clerk's house, and in one or the other of these all the records 



1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 25 

are kept. There is a very small vault or closet in the basement, 
in which a few unimportant papers are kept. The first volume of 
births and marriages and the volume of proprietors' records need 
binding. The valuation lists are preserved from 1844 ; the earlier 
ones and all papers and documents earlier than that date were 
probably burned in the town hall in 1845. The marriage certifi- 
cates and burial returns have been preserved since about 1850. 
The collectors' records have been recently recovered. The rebel- 
lion record has been written up. The proprietors' records were 
recovered by the clerk after a search covering nearly two years. 

Provincetown (Sept. 4, 1893). Wooden town hall, contain- 
ing all the town offices and a hall for entertainments. The clerk 
is also treasurer and keeps office hours. The records are all in 
good condition with the exception of the second volume of town 
proceedings, which needs binding. There are valuation lists for 
1810 and from 1816 to date. The files of papers for many years 
have been gathered together by the clerk and arranged and packed 
in boxes, among them being marriage certificates and burial returns 
for many years. The collectors' records have been returned to the 
town since 1851. The rebellion record has not been written up. 
Many leaves have been torn out of the records in various places, 
and tradition says they were removed many years ago during a 
term of excitement in regard to church matters. 

Eichmond (Oct. 11, 1893). Wooden town hall, used for meet- 
ings only. The clerk has a town safe, new in 1892, used for 
records only, in his dwelling, in which all his records and the val- 
uation lists from 1854 are kept. The volume of proprietors' records 
and the first of town proceedings are in bad order and need bind- 
ing ; other earlier ones are in fair condition. The marriage certi- 
ficates and burial returns have been preserved since 1890. The 
collectors' records have not been returned to the town and there is 
no volume of the rebellion record. A trunk of old papers con- 
tained, in place of the usual valuation lists, files of papers bundled 
up by years, each paper bearing the name of an assessed person, 
with the list of his property and the valuation, 

Rowe (Oct. 10, 1893). No town hall. There is a small old 
town safe in the clerk's store, in a wooden building, which is filled 
with a part of his records. In the second story of the store there 
is an old bookcase containing papers and records, including some 
records of marriages, intentions of marriage, and births. The 
records are in good condition, with the exception of one volume of 
births, marriages, and deaths, which needs binding. The valua- 



26 REPORT OF PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

tion lists for 1803 and from 1832 are preserved, but not in safes. 
Those prior to 1832 are in pamphlets. The marriage certificates 
and burial returns have been preserved since 1888, the term of the 
present clerk. The collectors' records have not been returned, but 
several have been recovered under the new law. The rebellion 
record is written up. 

Royalston (May 23, 1893). Wooden town hall, in which the 
selectmen have a room. There is a small safe there, filled with the 
valuation lists from 1862. There is also a small old safe in the 
hall, containing a few unimportant papers. The clerk has a very 
small safe in his dwelling, where one or two volumes of the current 
records and a copy of the earliest records of town proceedings are 
kept. All the other records, including the first volume of births, 
marriages, and deaths, are in a closet in his dwelling. The first 
volume of births, marriages, and deaths and the first of town pro- 
ceedings are in bad condition and need binding. There is quite a 
collection of old papers in drawers in the town hall, among them 
being marriage certificates and burial returns, some bearing date 
as early as 1855. The present clerk has preserved his certificates 
and returns during his term of service, beginning in 1890. The 
collectors' records have not been returned to the town. The rebel- 
lion record has been written up. 

Russell (July 17 and 19, 1893). Wooden town hall, used only 
as such. There is a room at Russell, used as a town office, to which 
access could not be gained on either day. There is said to be a 
safe there, used by the selectmen for a small part of their books 
and papers. The other records and papers not in the clerk's custody 
are kept there, not in a safe. The clerk has a small safe in the 
mill of the Fairfield Paper Company, at Fairfield, two miles from 
the town office, which is loaned him, in which he keeps the few 
records in his custody. He has no access to or custody of any 
other records or papers, and no further information about them 
could be obtained. 

Sheffield (Oct. 12, 1893). Brick town hall, containing the 
town office, the town hall, lockup, tenements, and business offices. 
There is a very large safe there, comparatively new, used by all 
the officers. The second volume of town proceedings, covering 
the years from 1769 to 1777, is missing, most of the other records 
being in the safe. The first, third, and fourth volumes of pro- 
ceedings are in bad order and need binding. There is a great 
collection of old papers in various places in the office, the older 
ones being in confusion ; among these were valuation lists for 



1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 27 

1766, 1769, 1771 to 1826, 1829 to 1839, 1841 to 1848, and many 
sheets without dates, duplicates, etc. The valuation lists from 
1850 are bound. No marriage certificates or burial returns prior 
to the present year, which is the first year of the present clerk's 
term, were found. The collectors' records have not been returned. 
The rebellion record was written up in the blotter only. 

Southampton (Sept. 15, 1893). Brick town hall, containing 
the selectmen's office. There is a large safe there, new in 1890. 
The clerk has an old town safe in his store, in which the current 
records are kept. All the records except the early valuation lists 
are in one or the other of the safes. The clerk is also treasurer 
and collector. A volume of proprietors' records and the first of 
town proceedings are in bad condition and need binding. The 
valuation lists for 1803 and from 1808 to date have been preserved. 
The marriage certificates and burial returns have been preserved 
since 1872. The collectors' records have not been returned, but 
some thirty volumes have been collected under the new law. The 
rebellion record has been written up. 

South Hadley (Sept. 14, 1893). No town hall. The select- 
men have an office in a small wooden town building erected for 
the purpose. There are two safes there, one very large, new in 
1890. The clerk has a safe of his own in his store, in a brick 
building, where he keeps his current records. The largest safe is 
filled with the valuation lists and selectmen's records and papers, 
the other being used by all the officers. The earliest record, being 
in a pamphlet, is in a very dilapidated condition, and the first vol- 
ume of town proceedings and the volume of proprietors' records 
are in bad condition and need binding. There is a large accumu- 
lation of papers in drawers and chests, and among them were found 
the valuation lists for early years, making the file nearly complete 
from 1793 to the present time. The marriage certificates and burial 
returns, some as early as 1829, and for most of the years since, 
were also among the papers. The collectors' records have not 
been returned, but a few have been collected under the new law. 

Southwick (June 30, 1893). Wooden town hall, containing 
the selectmen's room, in which the valuation lists are kept, and 
where there are several chests of papers. There is no safe there. 
The clerk has a small worthless safe in his dwelling, in which the 
oldest records are kept, the later ones being outside. The first 
volume of town proceedings is in a dilapidated condition and needs 
binding. The valuation lists, in pamphlets, for 1799, 1804 to 
1817, 1820, 1825 to 1829, 1839, and 1842 to 1847, were among the 



28 REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

papers in the chests ; those from 1848 to date are bound and pre- 
served. The marriage certificates have not been preserved, unless 
some may be among the old papers. The collectors' records have 
not been returned to the town. The rebellion record has been 
written up. It has been currently reported that when the town 
hall was burned, in 1876, many records and papers were burned ; 
but, in view of the fact that there are so many of the papers pre- 
served, this is probably not true, and a missing volume of town 
proceedings covering the years from 1819 to 1834 may be found. 

Stockbridge (Oct. 12, 1893). Wooden town hall, used for 
meetings only. A brick building, erected in 1886 and considered 
fire-proof, contains the town offices, the clerk, selectmen, and as- 
sessors each having an office. The clerk has a safe for his use, 
and there is another for the selectmen. With the exception of 
some papers and valuatioA lists, all the records are in one or the 
other. All but three volumes of the records are in good condition. 
At tne time of moving into the new building Mr. F. S. Aymor, 
one of the selectmen, made a careful inspection of all material 
removed from the old town hall, and found a roll of about forty 
pages in a very dilapidated condition, which proved to be the rec- 
ords from 1739 to 1760. These have been copied. The original 
grant of the Upper Housatonic lands, in 1737, was also found, and 
has been renovated and preserved. He has also filed and arranged 
all the town papers from 1795. The valuation lists from 1801 to 
date, with the exception of 1806, are preserved. The marriage 
certificates and burial returns have been preserved for many years. 
The collectors' records have not been returned or recovered. The 
rebellion record has been written up. 

Sunderland (Sept. 13, 1893).. Brick town hall, used for the 
town library and schools. The clerk has two safes in his dwelling, 
one new about 1890. All the more important records are kept in 
the new safe, valuation lists and minor records being kept in the 
other. The volume of proprietors' records and the first volume of 
births, marriages, and deaths are in bad order and need binding. 
There is an ancient copy of the proprietors' records and a recent 
copy of the other volume. The early valuation lists and the mar- 
riage certificates and burial returns for probably fifty years are 
packed in chests in the clerk's dwelling, with other papers. The 
collectors' records have not been returned, but a few have been 
collected under the new law. In 1880 the rebellion record had 
not been written up, and the town then voted that such a record be 
made so far as possible and placed among the other records of the 



1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 29 

town for preservation, and in 1882 a record of " Soldiers in the 
Civil War" was printed by vote of the town. 

Tisbury (Aug. 31, 1893). No town hall. A building is being 
fitted for an engine-house and town ollices. The clerk has a town 
safe in his store, in a wooden building, in which the records are 
kept. The town office is in a room in a business block, where the 
selectmen have a safe, in which the later valuation lists are kept. 
The first volume of births, marriages, and deaths is in bad condi- 
tion, but has just been copied. The other records are in good con- 
dition. The valuation lists are nearly complete from 1826. The 
marriage certificates and burial returns have all been preserved 
since 1885, and there are some for previous years. The collectors* 
records have not been returned to the town, but the clerk has ob- 
tained quite a number under the new law. The files of papers are 
not in safes. There is no volume for the rebellion record. 

Truro (Sept. 5, 1893). Wooden town hall, containing a select- 
men's room. The clerk has three small town safes in his dwelling, 
in which his records as clerk, treasurer, and collector are kept. 
The valuation lists are at the town hall, not in a safe, and there 
are some ancient ones among them. All the records are in good con- 
dition, the earliest having been re-bound some years ago. Copies 
of pages which were mutilated were made and inserted in place of 
the originals, which have been preserved by the clerk and kept in 
a safe. The marriage certificates and burial returns have been 
preserved for about fifty years ; these, with many other papers, 
are in chests at the town hall. Many of the collectors' records, 
probably all in existence, have been recovered. 

Tyringham (Oct, 12, 1893). Wooden town hall, used for meet- 
ings only. A room in the school-house is used for occasional 
meetings of the selectmen, and there is one large second-hand safe 
there, purchased in 1891, and a small old one. The valuation lists 
from 1847 are in the large safe ; records of births, marriages, and 
deaths in the smaller one, and the clerk's records at his house, not 
in a safe. The marriage certificates and burial returns have been 
preserved since 1867 and there are a few earlier. The collectors' 
records have not been returned and none have been recovered. 
The rebellion record was not furnished by the State, but the town 
has a volume containing a record of the enlistments. 

Wales (May 26, 1893). Wooden town hall, used for meetings 
only, the selectmen having no office and no records are kept there. 
The clerk has a small safe in his store, in which the records of 



30 REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

town proceedings and of births, marriages, and deaths are kept. 
No provision is made for safes for any other records. Several of 
the older volumes are in bad condition and need binding. The 
valuation lists are complete from 1786, and those from 1786 to 
1842 have just been copied. The assessors' records are scattered, 
some being in the clerk's store and some in a former residence of 
his, now vacant. The marriage certificates and burial returns have 
been preserved only during the present clerk's term, which has 
covered the years from 1883, excepting 1889. The collectors' 
records have not been returned to the town. The present clerk 
found many records in an old secretary in a barn when he first took 
the office. 

Warwick (Sept. 11, 1893). A dwelling given to the town, the 
income from which is to be divided among three churches, is used for 
a public library, a tenement, and in the second story for a town 
office. A small safe contains most of the records considered im- 
portant, and a worthless one has a few insignificant records in it. 
The valuation lists and a number of volumes of miscellaneous rec- 
ords are kept in closets. The later valuation lists are in the select- 
men's room, not in a safe. The proprietors' records, the first volume 
of town proceedings, and the first of births, marriages, and deaths 
are in bad condition and need binding. There are four parchment 
rolls, containing the lay-out of the original grants to the propri- 
etors, which are fading and should be copied. Many of the early 
valuation lists, beginning with 1802, were copied into one volume, 
and the lists are complete from that time. The marriage certifi- 
cates and burial returns have been preserved for ten years. The 
collectors' records have not been returned, although the clerk has 
obtained those for the last three years. The rebellion record has 
been written up. 

Washington (July 20, 1893). Wooden town hall, used only as 
such. A safe, new in 1893, contains such records of the clerk as 
are not in a very small town safe in his dwelling. The valuation 
lists for late years are kept at the house of the chairman of the 
assessors. Dilapidated lists for ten years between 1800 and 1829 
were found in a chest of old papers, but no information could be 
obtained in regard to any others. The marriage certificates and 
burial returns have been preserved during the term of the present 
clerk, two years, but no information could be obtained in regard 
to any others. The collectors' records have not been returned to 
the town. There was no volume for the rebellion record. 



1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 31 

Wellfleet (Sept. 5, 1893). Union Hall, owned by the Uni- 
versalist society, is hired by the town, and contains the selectmen's 
room. A small safe there is used by the clerk and selectmen, and 
a larger safe, bought in 1890, is used by the assessors, and in it 
are most of the valuation lists. The clerk has a very old town 
safe at his house for the current records, but it is insufficient for 
the records necessary for him to have at hand. The first, second, 
and third volumes of town proceedings are in bad condition and 
need binding ; the others are in good condition. Two chests of 
papers were found to contain the early valuation lists, school dis- 
trict records, and other papers which should be filed. The mar- 
riage certificates and burial returns have been preserved for many 
years, but the dates were not accessible. All the collectors' rec- 
ords said to be in existence, with the exception of a few in regard 
to which the town is now having a lawsuit, have been obtained. 

Wendell (May 23, 1893). Wooden town hall, where a few of 
the early valuation lists are kept. The clerk has a very small safe 
in his dwelling, wholly insufficient for his needs, most of his records 
being in a closet there. The valuation lists are scattered, some 
being at the town hall, some at the house of the chairman, and 
some at the clerk's, none being in a safe. There are chests of 
papers at the hall. The records are in good condition, with the 
exception of the first volume of births, marriages, and deaths, 
which needs binding. The marriage certificates and burial returns 
have been preserved for many years. Ten of the collectors' books 
have been recovered during the year, no others being returned to 
the town. The rebellion record has been written up. 

Westfield (April 26, 1893). Brick town hall. The clerk is 
treasurer and collector, and clerk of all the boards, and keeps 
office hours. There is one large safe used exclusively by him, and 
a smaller one used by him and the selectmen. The valuation lists 
are not in safes. The records are in excellent condition, with the 
exception of one very small ancient volume of births, marriages, 
and deaths. The town has unusually fine plans of water works, 
streets, and sewers, and it has a volume of typewritten records of 
all the roads laid out by the county commissioners. There are 
valuation lists from 1825, and undoubtedly earlier ones among a 
large accumulation of papers in drawers in one of the rooms in the 
building. The collectors' records for the last thirty years have 
been procured. The marriage certificates and burial returns have 
been preserved since about 1885. The town engineer has an office, 
but no safe for plans. 



32 REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

Westhampton (Sept. 14, 1893). Wooden town hall, used only 
for meetings. The clerk has two town safes in his store, and all the 
records are kept in one or the other. The earlier records are in 
unusually good condition. The record of births, marriages, and 
deaths was burned in 1808, but a record from private sources, evi- 
dently commenced at that time in a new volume, has a record by 
families, containing entries of as early date as 1753. The valu- 
ation lists are bound and complete from 1808. The marriage cer- 
tificates and burial returns have all been preserved since 1871, and 
there are very many back to 1846. The collectors' records have 
not been returned, but some have been collected under the new 
law. The rebellion record has been written up. 

West Springfield (April 17, 1893). Brick town hall, contain- 
ing all the town offices. The clerk is clerk of the selectmen and 
assessors and keeps regular office hours. There is a large safe, 
new in 1890, used by the selectmen, clerk, treasurer and collector. 
All the records are in good order with the exception of the first 
volume of births, marriages, and deaths, which needs binding. The 
collectors' records have been demanded and collected for all but 
two years. The rebellion record has been written up. There is a 
very large quantity of old papers and documents, probably nearly 
all that have belonged to the town since 1774, piled in confusion 
in an upper room in the hall ; among these are many burial returns. 

West Tisbury (Sept. 1, 1893). No town hall. A room is 
hired for the town office. A small town safe is kept in the clerk's 
store and is sufficient for the present records of the new town. A 
separate safe is to be procured for the clerk later. 

Whately (Sept. 13, 1893). Wooden town hall, containing the 
selectmen's room. There is a large safe there, new in 1891, in 
which all the records are kept. An old safe there contains some 
papers, among them marriage certificates and burial returns, which 
have been preserved for about ten years. The records of town 
proceedings and births, marriages, and deaths prior to 1848, which 
were reported by the clerk in 1885 as being in his possessior, are 
now missing. The valuation lists for a few scattering years from 
1831 to 1847 are the only ones earlier than 1850 known to be in 
existence. A list for 1865 is at present missing. The collectors' 
records have not been returned, but a few have been collected 
under the new law. The rebellion record has been written up. 



1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 33 

Wilbraham (June 29, 1893). No town hall. There is a town 
office in a wooden building, used for stores and a dwelling, at North 
AVilbraham. There is one large safe, new in 1889, and an old, appar- 
ently worthless one. Most of the records are in one or the other of 
these safes. The first and second volumes of town proceedings 
are in bad condition and need binding and copying. There were 
several chests containing old valuation lists, collectors' records, 
and miscellaneous papers ; one volume contained the valuation lists 
from 1798 to 1827, and most if not all of the later ones are pre- 
served, either in pamphlet form or bound. The marriage certifi- 
cates and burial returns have been preserved since 1878, and there 
were many earlier ones in closets, some bearing date as early as 
1850. The collectors' records have not, as a rule, been returned 
to the town, though some have lately been obtained. The rebel- 
lion record has been written up. 

Williamstown (Oct. 9, 1893). No town hall. There is a town 
office in the Waterman & Monroe Opera House building, where 
there is a large new safe, used by the selectmen and assessors and 
for the overflow from the clerk's safe. Access could not be gained 
to this safe. The clerk has a small town safe of doubtful value in 
the office of the Williamstown Manufacturing Company, in a 
wooden building. The current records and the old records of 
births, marriages, and deaths are kept here, a few volumes being 
in a safe belonging to the aforesaid company. The records are in 
good condition, with the exception of two early volumes of pro- 
prietors' records, which are in very bad condition. The marriage 
certificates have been preserved since 1882 and the burial returns 
since 1883. The collectors' records have not been returned to the 
town, but have been partially recovered under the new law. The 
rebellion record has been written up. In 1843 Prof. James H. 
Coffin copied the surveys recorded in the proprietors' records, re- 
surveyed the roads, and made a map of the same. 

Assessors' Eecords. 

Inspection in the towns has brought to light many of the 
early valuation lists, in all conditions, varying from very 
dilapidated to carefully preserved. These, as a rule, are 
not in safes, and many early lists are not accessible unless 
much time and trouble were taken to bring them from the 
out-of-the-way places in which they are stored. They should 
be among the records most easily searched. 



34 



REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. 



[Jan. 



The following table owes the dates of the lists found dur- 



ing the year : — 



Eastham, . . . 
Provincetown, . 
Truro, .... 



Wellfleet, 



County of Barnstable. 

Complete from 1797. 

For 1810, and from 1816. 

There are many old lists, the dates not being ac- 
cessible, and later ones complete. 

Some pamphlet lists as early as 1797, and volumes 
later. 



Alford, . 
Becket, . 
Cheshire, . 
Clarksburg, 
Egremont, 

Florida, . 
Hancock, . 
Hinsdale, . 
Lanesborough, 



Lee, .... 
Lenox, .... 
Mt. Washington, 
New Ashford, . 
Peru, .... 
Richmond, . . 



Sheffield, . 



Stockbridge, 
T}-ringham, . 
Washington, 



County of Berkshire. 

Nearly complete from 1824. 

Many early lists in sheets, and volumes from 1828. 

From 1814, excepting 1815, 1816, and 1820. 

From 1801 to 1814, inclusive, and from 1838. 

For 1825 and many occasional years to 1840 ; com- 
plete since. 

From 1860. 

From 1811 to 1819, inclusive, and from 1855. 

Nearly complete from 1795. 

For 1803 ; from 1806 to 1808, inclusive ; for 1814 : 
from 1818 to 1822, inclusive ; for 1827 ; and 
from 1829. 

Many old lists, the dates not being accessible. 

For 1806, and from 1808. 

From 1860. 

From 1842. 

From 1825. 

There are slips of paper, each being the valuation 
for a person, in bundles by years for many 
years prior to 1854, and volumes from that 
time. 

For 1766 and 1769 ; and nearly or quite complete 
from 1771 to 1848 in sheets, and in volumes 
since. 

From 1801, excepting 1806. 

From 1847. 

Fragments of lists for 1800 and 1803 ; from 1806 to 
1810, inclusive, and from 1827 to 1829, in- 
clusive. Later ones not accessible. 



Gosnold, 
Tisbury, 



West Tisbury, . 



County of Dukes County. 

Complete from 1865. 

From 1826 to 1828, inclusive ; from 1831 to 1839, 
inclusive, excepting 1834 ; for 1842 ; from 1844 
to 1852, inclusive; for 1855 and 1856; and 
from 1858. 

For 1892 and 1893. 



1894.] 



HOUSE — No. 2. 



35 



Bernardston, 
Leyden, . 
Northfield, 



Bowe, . . 
Sunderland, 



Warwick, 
Whately, . 

Blandford, . 

Brimfield, . 

Chester, . . 

Hampden, . 

Holland, . . 
Longmeadow, 

Ludlow, . . 



Monson, . . 
Montgomery, 



South wick, 



Wales, . . . 
Wilbraham, . 



Easthampton, 



Enfield, 
Granby, 



Greenwich, . 
Huntington, . 



County of Franklin. 

Nearly complete from 1762. 

For 1854, 1857, 1858, and from 18G0. 

From 1827 to 1810, inclusive, and from 1800. 
Probably earlier ones, but not accessible. 

For 1803, and from 1832. 

From a very early date, the earliest not being ac- 
cessible. 

Many early lists not accessible, and volumes from 
1802. 

From 1831 to 1844, inclusive, excepting 1833 and 
1837 ; for 1847 ; and from 1850, excepting 1865. 

County of Hampden. 

Nearly complete from 1819, and a copy from 1816 
to 1824, inclusive. 

From 1783. 

From 1765 to 1824, inclusive ; for 1830 and 1831, 
and from 1841. 

From 1878. 

From 1800. 

From 1799. 

From 1791 to 1795, inclusive, and from 1799, ex- 
cepting 1806, 1810, 1818, and 1824. 

Nearly complete from 1804. 

For 1830 ; from 1836 to 1847, inclusive, excepting 
1840 and 1844 ; and from 1861. 

For 1799 ; from 1804 to 1817, inclusive ; for 1820 ; 
from 1825 to 1829, inclusive ; for 1839 ; and 
from 1842. 

From 1786. 

From 1798. 

County of Hampshire. 

For 1794 ; from 1799 to 1803, inclusive ; for 1805 ; 
from 1808 to 1811, inclusive ; and from 1813 to 
1820, inclusive ; for 1822, 1827, 1829, 1839, 1842, 
and 1844, and from 1849. 

From 1816. 

For 1783, 1784, 1785, 1789, and 1792 ; from 1794 to 
1797, inclusive; 1803 to 1824, inclusive; for 
1826, and from 1850. 

Lists for occasional years from 1791 to 1850, and in 
volumes since. 

For 1795, 1801, and 1802 ; from 1806 to 1809, in- 
clusive ; for 1811 ; from 1813 to 1815, inclu- 
sive ; from 1818 to 1820, inclusive ; from 1826 
to 1829, inclusive ; for 1831, 1832, 1837, 1838, 
1840, 1841, and from 1845. 



36 REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

County of Hampshire — Concluded. 
Southampton, . . For 1803, and from 1808, excepting 1852. 
South Hadley, . . Nearly if not quite complete from 1793. 
Westhampton, . . From 1808. 

County of Worcester. 

Dana, From 1801, excepting 1808. 

Petersham, . . . From 1844. 

Births, Marriages, and Deaths. 

Volumes are often found in the towns which were com- 
menced as ancient copies of births, and in which original 
entries have been continued. There are no originals of the 
copies, and from what or by whom either the originals or 
copies were made is not known. They often contain a rec- 
ord of families, beginning with persons known to have been 
born elsewhere, sometimes in England, years before there 
was a settlement or record in the town. They bear no 
attestation and of course are not a legal record, and are 
often misleading, but are looked upon as the original record. 
This accounts for the very early dates of births reported in 
many of the towns. 

Reference has been made on a previous page to the incom- 
pleteness and inaccuracy of the records of births, marriages, 
and deaths, but the subject is of such great importance that 
it must be again enlarged upon. 

The necessity of accuracy in these records is too apparent 
to dwell upon, but none are so incorrect. Errors and omis- 
sions in the ancient records cannot be corrected or supplied, 
but those of later years might if the law allowed it, and 
there should be legislation not only to allow but to require 
it. It is true that an act intended to correct the trouble has 
recently been passed, but it does not. This is the law : — 

The clerk of a city or town, or the city registrar, shall " receive 
and obtain " the facts required in regard to a birth, marriage, or 
death, and record them in the order in lohich he receives them. 

Parents shall give notice to the clerk of the birth or death of 
their children. 

Every householder shall give notice of every birth or death hap- 
pening in his house. 






1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 37 

The eldest person next of kin shall give such notice of the death 
of his kindred. 

The keeper of a workhouse, house of correction, prison, hospital 
or almshouse, except the State Almshouse, and the master or other 
commanding officer of a ship shall give like notice of every birth 
or death happening among persons under his charge. 

A physician who has attended a person during his last illness 
shall when requested (by whom?) forthwith furnish for registra- 
tion a certificate stating, to the best of his knowledge and belief, 
the name of the deceased, his age, the disease of which he died, 
the duration of his last sickness, and the date of his decease. 

Every sexton, undertaker, or other person having charge of a 
burial ground, and every undertaker or superintendent of burials 
having charge of the funeral rites preliminary to the interment of 
a human body, shall forthwith return to the clerk of the city or 
town in which the deceased resided or the death occurred the facts 
required to be recorded by the clerk. 

Physicians or midwives shall, on or before the fifth of each 
month, report to the clerk of the city or town a correct list of all 
the children born therein during the month next preceding, at 
whose birth they were present, stating the date and place of each 
birth, the name of the child (if it has any), the sex and color of 
the child, the name, place of birth and residence of the parents, 
and occupation of the father. 

A physician who has attended at a birth of a child dying imme- 
diately thereafter, or at a birth of a still-born child, shall when 
requested (by whom ?) forthwith furnish for registration a certifi- 
cate stating, to the best of his knowledge and belief, the fact that 
such child died after birth or was born dead. 

The clerk or registrar of a city or town shall, on the first day of 
each month, make a list of persons deceased recorded in his rec- 
ords who were residents of any other city or town, or of children 
born whose parents were residents of any other, and transmit it 
to the clerk or registrar of such other city or town for record. 

Persons intending to be joined in marriage shall, before their 
marriage, cause notice of their intention to be entered in the office 
of the clerk or registrar of the city or town in which they respect- 
ively dwell, or, if they do not dwell within the Commonwealth, in 
the office of the clerk or registrar where they intend to have the 
marriage solemnized. The clerk shall deliver a certificate, which 
must be presented to the minister or magistrate before he solem- 
nizes the marriage, but he must not issue it to a male under twenty- 
one or to a female under eighteen when he has reasonable cause to 



38 REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

suppose him or her under such age, except upon application or con- 
sent in writing of his or her parent, master, or guardian. 

When a marriage is solemnized in another State between parties 
living in this, and they return here to dwell, they shall, within 
seven days, file with the clerk or registrar of the town where either 
of them lived at the time, a certificate or declaration of their 
marriage. 

Every person authorized to perform the marriage ceremony and 
the keeper of the records of a meeting of Friends or Quakers shall 
make and keep a record of each marriage solemnized before him, 
and between the first and tenth of each month return the marriage 
certificate to the clerk or registrar who issued it, and if the mar- 
riage was solemnized in a city or town other than the place or 
places in which the parties resided, return a copy of the certificate 
to the clerk or registrar of the city or town in which the marriage 
was solemnized. All certificates returned shall be recorded by the 
clerk or registrar receiving the same. 

The burial returns and marriage certificates must be preserved, 
filed, and indexed by the clerks or registrars. 

The city or town clerk or registrar of deaths shall, on the first 
day of every month, and also two days before every election, trans- 
mit to the registrars of voters a list of the names of all residents 
of twenty-one years of age or upwards who have deceased within 
the preceding month, or since the date of the list previously trans- 
mitted. 

Penalties are prescribed for neglect or violation of the above 
requirements. 

This is the working of the law, varying according to cus- 
tom in the city or town : — 

The clerks do not " receive" the returns required because so 
few householders, parents, or eldest of kin know the law or make 
the return required that practically none do ; the physicians are 
very derelict in returning deaths, some returning annually, and 
some even refusing to make returns, excepting in Boston and some 
other places, where within a year they have generally complied 
with the law. (They may claim that they have not been " re- 
quested.") Clerks sign burial permits in blank and give them to 
the undertakers in quantity, and the neglect to return one is not 
known. Undertakers return them to members of the board of 
health, as they may under the statutes, and the return does not 
reach the clerk. Physicians and midwives are derelict in return- 
ing births, and they purposely neglect to return the births of ille- 



1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 39 

gitimate children. They return to the clerk of their own city or 
town births in adjoining towns. Physicians coming from border 
towns in other States make no returns. Mid wives need pay no 
attention to the recent act in regard to still-born children, when in 
fact in large manufacturing cities and towns they attend at a large 
part of the births, and no record is received of the facts. 

No provision is made in the laws as to how the clerk shall " ob- 
tain the facts required," and there is no uniformity of action. In 
the cities and large towns persons are employed to make a house- 
to-house canvass for the births. The question is asked, " Has 
there been any child born here this year?" and if the answer is 
u no," the canvasser cannot dispute it. If there has been an ille- 
gitimate child the answer is generally "no." There may have 
been births in families which have removed, of which no record is 
obtained. If any one claiming to know the facts gives them they 
are recorded for what they are worth. Clerks of experience are 
taking various measures to make these canvasses more accurate, 
asking for signatures or names of informants, and then comparing 
the record with returns which have been received. In small towns 
the clerk makes his own canvass, or in very small ones relies upon 
personal knowledge, preferring that to the information in the re- 
turns. The requirement that the clerk shall, under certain condi- 
tions, transmit to other towns births and deaths often results in 
births and deaths being recorded in two places, with no explan- 
atory information. 

Marriage certificates are obtained with the greatest ease by per- 
sons not entitled to them, by false representations which cannot 
be disproved by the clerk. Persons known to be ineligible by 
reason of their age or of having a husband or wife go out of town 
and obtain a certificate, and in border towns they go out of the 
State and are out of reach of our laws, returning to a town where 
they are not known and where no certificate is looked for or filed. 
Intentions are recorded when no marriage takes place, but in the 
incompleteness of the records it will be assumed in later years that 
it took place, but the record was omitted. In one instance at least 
a certificate was obtained and the intention of marriage printed in 
a daily newspaper when the marriage was not intended by the lady. 

Clergymen, as a rule, keep no such record of marriages as is in- 
tended by the law, and, as far as can be ascertained, justices of 
the peace seldom keep ayiy. Both are careless about returning the 
certificates, and when returning to two towns the marriage is likely 
to be recorded as occurring in both. 

Under the varying methods of receiving and obtaining the facts 
a clerk cannot record them " in the order in which he receives them " 



40 REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

without having the chronological order of his record destroyed, and 
of course cannot make the monthly return to the registrars of 
voters of that of which he has no record. 

No one is designated to prosecute for the several penalties out- 
side of Boston excepting the secretary of the Commonwealth, who 
shall prosecute for some of them. The absurdity of placing the 
honorable secretary of the Commonwealth in the position of prose- 
cutor of a parent in western Berkshire who has neglected to return 
the death of his child should be a sufficient argument for a repeal 
of this part of the law. 

Notwithstanding the fact that the record is wrong in very many 
cases and is known to be, " the record of a town clerk relative to a 
birth, marriage or death shall be prima facie evidence, in legal pro- 
ceedings, of the facts recorded." 

The public health is endangered by the dereliction of persons 
who should make returns under the registration laws. As an illus- 
tration the case may be cited of a person who died from scarlet 
fever and whose body was kept in the house for several days, a 
wake being held meanwhile, at which more than a hundred persons 
were exposed to the disease. The health officers found the under- 
taker blameless in the matter from the fact that he had not received 
the death certificate from the physician until the day of the funeral. 

Under chapter 306 of the Acts of 1888, most of the burials of 
persons in a cemetery outside of the town in which they die are 
illegal. 

The whole subject is well worth the consideration of the 
special committee of the Legislature suggested. 

Proprietors' Records. 

Inspection in the western part of the State has disclosed 
many volumes of proprietors' records, usually in rather 
poor condition, but legible, and, as a rule, complete. These 
often contain plots of the original surveys, and in some cases 
there are plans which from their unbound condition are in 
danger of being destroyed. Copies of these should be made 
for the registries of deeds. The Plymouth registry has nearly 
all such records in the county copied, and all will be soon. 
The southern Berkshire registry has several volumes of copies, 
but there has been no general movement in the counties, as 
there should be. 

The copying of all proprietors' records should be compul- 
sory rather than permissive, as at present. 



1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 41 

An illustration of the value of these records and plans is 
furnished by the map prepared by Henry M. Burt, Esq., of 
Springfield, for his book on " The Burt Family," reproduced 
in the "Springfield Republican" of November 10, 1893. 
This is a plan of the Plantation of Agawam, afterward the 
town of Springfield, as laid out about 1640, upon which Mr. 
Burt has located the streets of to-day. There are very many 
of these plans of the old plantations which are almost un- 
known, that could be copied and placed in the registries to 
serve as the foundation for such maps as this of Springfield, 
which would be of the greatest value to conveyancers and 
surveyors. 

Attention is called to the proprietors' records of Warwick, 
Westfield, Wilbraham, Greenwich, and Hatfield, mentioned 
under the title "General Information on Eecords." Those 
of Warwick will be seen to contain names of early residents 
of Roxbury and Brookline, who presumably settled in War- 
wick ; those of Westfield and Wilbraham contain records of 
Springfield town meetings ; the title of the Greenwich rec- 
ords is ambiguous enough to excite curiosity to know more 
of them, while the records of Hatfield are as important to 
landowners in surrounding towns as to Hatfield. 

Parish and Church Records. 
The value of the parish and church records is constantly 
becoming more apparent. No one attempting to trace gene- 
alogy can fail to be surprised and disappointed at the diffi- 
culties encountered by the loss or incompleteness of the town 
records of births, marriages, and deaths, especially of births. 
The records of marriages and deaths in the early church rec- 
ords often supply deficiencies in these, and the records of 
baptisms, which in early days were considered necessary, 
are generally the only records which give a clue to the prob- 
able date of birth. As a rule they are carelessly kept in 
dwellings, exposed to danger from fire ; and although it has 
been decided (Sawyer v. Baldwin, 11 Pick., 492) that a book 
kept by a single minister during his term of service, con- 
taining memoranda of church matters, in the absence of any 
other record, is a church record, these books are often, if 
not usually, considered by the minister to be his private 



42 REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

memoranda and are carried away. As the parish in early 
days was the town, the early parish records are in reality 
the town records, but the towns have lost jurisdiction over 
them. Many of these early records are known to be in 
possession of persons having no right to them, and others 
undoubtedly are, and their delivery to the church or parish 
clerks should be insisted upon, even if legal measures are 
necessary for their recovery. 

If the church or parish has ceased to exist, the records 
should be in possession of the town, but until it has there is 
no way under existing laws by which the town can secure 
them. 

The inability to find the records of extinct churches and 
parishes, which should have been returned to the city and 
town clerks immediately upon the extinction of the church 
or parish, is largely accounted for by the half extinct con- 
dition in which many lingered along. There are about 
seventy now in that condition which have not held religious 
services for many years and probably will never again, whose 
records are held by some person claiming that the church or 
parish is not extinct. 

Funds are believed to be illegally held in some cases, and 
one fund left to support preaching has entirely disappeared. 
The records which have recently been recovered show a bal- 
ance in 1870 of $2,392.95, which should have been much 
larger, but by the time the records were recovered the 
money had gone beyond recovery. 

While copying by the cities and towns seems to be the 
most feasible way to reach the records of existing churches 
and parishes, those of the half extinct might be saved from 
loss by the passage of the following act : — 

An Act to provide for the custody of the records of a 
religious society, church, parish, or association for 
religious worship, which has ceased to hold religious 
meetings. 

Section 1. When a church, parish, religious society, monthly 
meeting of the people called Friends or Quakers, or any body of 
persons, who have associated themselves together for the purpose 
of holding meetings for religious worship, shall cease for a term 
of two years to hold religious meetings regularly, the persons 



1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 43 

having the care of any of the records or registries of such church, 
parish, religious society, monthly meeting, or association, or of 
any church, parish, religious society, monthly meeting, or associa- 
tion connected therewith, shall deliver all such records to the clerk 
of the city or town in which such church, parish, religious society, 
monthly meeting or association is situated, and such clerk may 
certify copies thereof. 

Sect. 2. Every person having any records of the deacons, 
church wardens, trustees, overseers, or other similar officers, of 
any of the assemblies or associations aforesaid, by whatever name 
called, shall deliver all such records to the clerk of the city or 
town in which such assembly or association is situated, and such 
clerk may certify copies thereof. 

Sect. 3. If any church, parish, religious society, monthly 
meeting, or association, the records or registries of which, or of 
any officers of which, have been so delivered, shall resume regular 
religious meetings under its former name, or shall be legally 
incorporated with some church, parish, religious society, or 
monthly meeting, the clerk of said city or town shall, upon demand 
made in writing by a duly authorized person, deliver such records 
or registries to such person : provided, however, that said person 
shall, in writing, certify that to the best of his knowledge and 
belief said religious meetings are to be regularly continued, or 
such incorporation has been legally completed. 

Sect. 4. Every person who, after demand made by the clerk 
entitled by law to have possession of the records or registries 
aforesaid, wrongfully detains the same, shall forfeit the sum of 
one hundred dollars, to be prosecuted for by said clerk. 

Value of Records. 

Strange as it may appear to one who appreciates the value 
of the records, the question is still asked, " Of what value 
are these old records ?" Money value is usually in the mind 
of the questioner, and he can find the answer if he will 
consult the reports of various commissions appointed from 
time to time by authority of the Legislature to settle dis- 
putes between towns, and see how often the old records have 
been the only foundation for a just settlement, or their loss 
has prevented such ; or he will appreciate their value if he 
will glance through the Massachusetts Reports and observe 
how often the old records, especially of churches or parishes, 
are relied upon by parties to suits. And if his town is not 



44 REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

an exception he need not go far to learn that the town is 
believed to be unjustly charged with the support of a pauper 
because the old records are not at hand, or to find that much 
of the town's money has been "fooled away" in quarrels 
where the records might have prevented them. 

There have been numberless cases of legislation over the 
location of a highway because of the loss of the record of 
the original lay-out, and relocations have been established 
only to be found incorrect when the records have been found. 

I predict much trouble and expense for the commissioners 
in laying out the new State highways because of the loss of 
the records of the original lay-outs. 

Condition of the Records. 

The condition of the most ancient records can only be 
fully realized by inspection, but the reproductions here pre- 
sented are illustrations of the neglected condition of them. 
Plates 1 and 2 are from photographs, reduced in size, of 
what once constituted a volume of Natick records, and are 
a fair representation of the condition of what can be found 
in very, very many of the oldest cities and towns. These 
pages were selected because they show also specimens of 
Indian records, probably the only town records in that 
language in the State. 

Plates 3 and 4 are presented to show what may be done 
to preserve records apparently beyond redemption. Plate 
3 is a reduced reproduction of a paper from the tiles in the 
office of the clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court in Boston. 
This is one of some 250,000 papers saved from total destruc- 
tion, a description of which is given in the catalogue of the 
records and files in the office. When taken for treatment it 
was reduced almost to powder by mould, but by expert 
handling was placed between sheets of transparent paper 
and now constitutes a leaf in one of the volumes into which 
these old papers have been bound, both sides being legible. 
The paper is one of forty in a somewhat noted case in rela- 
tion to Bendall's Dock in Boston. 

In preparing these papers it became necessary to gather 
fragments which had become detached and match them to 
complete documents. Plate 4 represents a paper formed 



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Plate I. 



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1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 45 

from such fragments matched and placed between the trans- 
parent paper, and while a comparatively large piece is miss- 
ing, the purport of the paper is clear. All fragments not 
yet used are indexed by names on them or other distinguish- 
ing features, and from time to time documents are found to 
which they belong and they are inserted. 

Kecords in the condition of those shown in Plates 1 and 
2 are looked upon as beyond repair, and if copies, often un- 
attested and inaccurate, have been made, no effort is made 
to preserve the originals from further destruction ; or if they 
have been rebound, the binder, to make a good-looking vol- 
ume, has trimmed the edges of the leaves, often cutting off 
dates. Plates 3 and 4 show what can be done to preserve 
any records, however dilapidated. 

Accumulation of Records and Papers. 

How the immense accumulation of records in the registries 
of deeds and of volumes and papers in the courts is to be 
provided for in the fire-proof receptacles required by the 
statutes will soon be a serious problem. In fact, with the 
knowledge gained from the serious fires of recent years it is 
apparent that with the exception of a few new fire-proof 
buildings the statute requirements are not now carried out. 
If as new buildings are projected they must be upon a scale 
large enough to provide for the accumulation of records, with 
the attendant great cost, the question arises, cannot there be 
a reduction in bulk? 

An attempt has been made from time to time to reduce 
the forms of deeds and other legal documents, but this has 
been done more with a view of simplifying them than of 
reducing the number of volumes in the registries of deeds. 
As compared with other States, our forms are unnecessarily 
long, and the mass of matter recorded in the registries could 
be reduced fully one-third by the adoption of shorter forms. 

The detailed reports upon the condition of the records in 
the cities and towns show that there are in many places ac- 
cumulations of papers, usually neglected, many of which are 
very old. Among these are small books of record, which, 
being unbound, have been thrown with loose papers ; and 
many of the papers are valuable in the absence of records. 



46 REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

The safety of what are valuable is endangered by the large 
quantity of useless papers, such as outlawed receipts, official 
circulars, etc. It seems unreasonable to expect that safes 
shall be provided for all of these, yet they are part of the 
files of papers, and as such they should, under the statutes, 
be in safes. 

The suggestion of the destruction of papers will be op- 
posed by some, and that it should come from one whose 
duty it is to see that the records are preserved will be 
deemed almost a breach of trust, but such a destruction 
has long been authorized in England, where the records are 
much more carefully guarded than here, and the destruction, 
under proper restrictions, of the useless papers in the cities 
and towns will result in much better care of the valuable 
ones. The passage of the following act is therefore recom- 
mended. It will be seen that the destruction of any bearing 
date before the year 1800 is absolutely forbidden, and the 
passage of that part will prevent the destruction of many 
which will otherwise follow similar papers that have already 
gone to the paper mills from other towns. Papers must 
also be preserved for twenty years, which, as a rule, will be 
sufficient under the statute of limitations. 

An Act to prevent the destruction of records and certain 
papers and to authorize the destruction of other papers. 

Be it enacted, etc., as follows: 

Section 1. No book of record or registry of any county, city, 
or town shall be destroyed, and no original paper belonging to the 
files of any county, city, or town bearing date earlier than the year 
of our Lord eighteen hundred ; and no paper belonging to the files 
aforesaid shall be destroyed until the date of the latest entry therein 
is twenty years prior to the date of making of the list mentioned 
in section two of this act, or of the sending authorized by section 
three. 

Sect. 2. The clerk, city registrar, head of any department, or 
chairman of any board of a city may, from time to time, make a list 
of any papers in his office, other than extended records, which in 
his opinion are not of sufficient value to justify their preservation, 
except those the destruction of which is prohibited by the first sec- 
tion of this act : and in making such list it shall be sufficient to 
classify the papers therein according to their nature and contents 



1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 47 

instead of specifying each paper separately. Said list shall then 
be submitted to the commissioner of public records, and if he shall 
certify thereon his approval of the destruction of the papers therein 
named, said list shall be submitted to the mayor of said city for a 
period of not less than two weeks, when, if no objection is made 
to the destruction of any papers therein named, said clerk, regis 
trar, head of department, or chairman of a board shall proceed to 
destroy the papers named therein. 

Sect. 3. The town clerk or board of selectmen of any town may, 
from time to time, send, at the expense of the town, to the office 
of the clerk of the superior court having civil jurisdiction in the 
town, any papers belonging to the town whose destruction is not 
prohibited by section one of this act, which in his or their opinion 
are not of sufficient value for preservation. Upon receipt of the 
same the clerk of the court shall notify the commissioner of public 
records that such papers await examination, and said commissioner 
and clerk of the court shall, as soon as practicable, examine said 
papers, and if it shall appear to them that they are not of sufficient 
value for preservation they shall proceed to destroy them. If said 
clerk of the court and commissioner shall deem any such papers of 
sufficient value to be preserved, or if they shall disagree in regard 
to the same, such papers shall be returned to the clerk of the town 
to be preserved. 

Sect. 4. Whoever wilfully destroys any of the papers belong- 
ing to a county, city, or town, except as authorized by the pro- 
visions of this act, shall be liable to a fine not exceeding five hun- 
dred dollars ; which penalty may be recovered by complaint of any 
person to the use of the county, city, or town to which said papers 
belonged, and the district attorney of the said county, or for the 
county wherever the eity or town is situated, shall prosecute for 
the same. 

Rebellion Record. 

Attention is again called to the books called ' i Rebellion 
Record" furnished to the towns in 1865 for a record of the 
soldiers and sailors enlisting. Errors or omissions in these 
should be corrected or supplied while there are persons liv- 
ing competent to furnish information, and, as was suggested, 
the Grand Army posts might take the work in hand. 

Town Clerks. 

Much has been said in the previous reports upon the sub- 
ject of the town clerks, their responsibilities, duties, and 



48 REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

compensation, but as the bad condition of affairs in the 
towns cannot be corrected until a radical change is made it 
seems important to again touch upon it, even at the risk of 
repetition. 

There are records commonly spoken of as the ' ' clerk's 
records," and these only are supposed to be in the custody 
of the clerk. An attempt on his part to assume the charge 
of the records of the various boards would be, and in fact 
has been, in some cases considered an interference, but by 
the language of chapter 37 of the Public Statutes the clerk 
is the custodian of "all the books of record or registry," 
and he is required to keep them in the safe provided. As 
has been stated, unless the clerk is the clerk of a board, and 
it is very uncommon for him to be, he has no more knowl- 
edge of the records of a board than any citizen, and in very 
many cases cannot gain access to them, though he is required 
to have them " open for public inspection and examination." 

That this matter has not received proper consideration is 
apparent from the fact that chapter 423 of the Acts of 1893, 
entitled " An Act relative to the powers and duties of town 
officers," does not touch it. A part of that act is entitled 
"Town clerks," and four sections are supposed to give his 
powers and duties. A new clerk naturally turns to this act 
for a guide to his " powers and duties," and is pleased to 
find them so few and simple, and does not consider the ques- 
tion of compensation worth raising. He knows as a matter 
of common knowledge that there are births, marriages, and 
deaths, dog licenses, and mortgages to be recorded, for which 
there are fees, and he receives a few books from his prede- 
cessor. When his attention is called to the duties as com- 
piled in about twenty pages in the third, fourth, and fifth 
reports of this commission, many of which as appropriately 
belong in chapter 423 as those there specified, and finds, 
while he receives no compensation, he is obliged to give 
bonds, and is liable to heavy penalties, he concludes that 
he has undertaken more arduous duties than he anticipated. 
When clerks are found who, following the custom in the 
towns, have given up space in their dwellings or stores for 
the storage of the accumulation of years of records and pa- 
pers (the placing of which there is an offence on the part 



1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 49 

of the selectmen), or have piled away in their attics or in 
closets the mass of public documents sent to the town, or, 
as in many cases, have at their own expense built bookcases 
for them which the town should have supplied, it is to be 
wondered at that they are willing to hold the office, and 
many of the best clerks are now holding it only because they 
believe the danger to the records and the general unsatis- 
factory condition of affairs which has been shown by the 
reports of this commission must result in legislation to cor- 
rect the abuses and deal fairly with them. 

If a strict compliance with the law were required of the 
clerks, none but a few of the large towns which furnish 
facilities and properly compensate their clerks could find 
competent persons willing to take the office. 

Recording Officers. 
The recommendations made in previous reports that the 
terms of office of the recording officers be longer is renewed. 
Nothing so stands in the way of bringing a record office up 
to the highest standard as the frequent change or liability to 
change of the recording officer. As long as the mistake of 
making the offices elective is continued the terms should be 
at least three years in the city and town offices, and in the 
county offices five, and politics should be ignored. The 
annual change of clerks in a town where parties are nearly 
evenly divided, with the attendant carting about of the 
records, or, worse, the neglect to remove them from a clerk's 
dwelling or store because the chances are about even that 
they will have to be brought back the next year ; the failure 
to elect during the year a city clerk because the city govern- 
ment is equally divided on party lines ; and the necessity 
for citizens, irrespective of party, to join in appeals to the 
people to elect an efficient county officer whom the party 
managers see fit to oppose, are conditions that do not tend 
to an improvement in the condition or safety of the records. 

Town Halls. 
Many of the towns had not properly provided for their 
records because they had no town hall or suitable building 
in which a vault could be built or a safe placed. A number 



50 REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

of towns had agitated the subject of a new town hall, and 
some had appropriated money for one, but sites could not 
be agreed upon and the buildings did not go up. Since the 
obligations of the towns to provide for the records was 
brought to their attention several have erected the buildings 
and have good vaults or safes in them. In many towns 
town halls, library buildings, or memorial buildings have 
been built wholly or in part by individuals, and provision 
has been made in them for town offices. These are inestima- 
ble to the towns, and are a lasting monument to the thought- 
fulness, public spirit, and generosity of the donors, and the 
hope that their example may be followed by some who may 
chance to see this report has led to giving the subject place 
in it. 

The town of Charlemont has recently completed a town 
hall and library, at a cost of $10,869.33, under the follow- 
ing conditions: — Hon. Joseph White of Williamstown gave 
the lot for the building, it being the lot on which he was 
born. Mr. Ebenezer R. Goodnow, a resident, furnished 
$8,010 on condition that the town should pay him or his 
wife interest on that amount at 5 per cent per annum as 
long as either should live, and the town accepted the money. 
Mr. Stephen Leonard, another resident, gave $1,000; Mrs. 
Kate Upson Clarke of New York city raised most of the 
balance by subscription, and the full amount was made up 
by various persons. May this example be followed. 

State Aid to Towns. 
In the last report the question of aid being given by the 
State to towns that would find it a great burden to provide 
safes for their records was touched upon. During the year 
some of the very smallest and poorest towns have been 
visited, and the need of such aid is made more apparent. 
As the detailed reports show, they have no provision for the 
safety of their records, the clerk's house or store being the 
place of deposit of what are commonly called his records, 
the others being scattered about the town. The towns are 
in a position where a penalty of $20 a month should be im- 
posed upon them unless they incur an expense which they 
can ill afford. They will be put to some expense in provid- 
ing a place for a safe, even if the State supplies it. 



1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 51 

The Commonwealth has just assumed the expense of State 
highways, and large towns are to receive a benefit there- 
from; but none of the towns which would receive benefit 
from the passage of the following act are situated where they 
would be likely to benefit from the State highway act. 

As it would seem but just that the towns which promptly 
complied with the law when notified by this commission in 
1889 should fare as well as those which have not, they should 
be compensated, and the passage of the following act is 
recommended : — 

An Act to supply certain towns with safes or vaults for 
the town records. 

Be it enacted, etc., as follows: 

Section 1. The commissioner of public records may expend a 
sum not exceeding five hundred dollars for the building of a vault 
or purchase of safes for the keeping of the records of any town 
whose valuation does not exceed two hundred and fifty thousand 
dollars. 

Sect. 2. If any town whose valuation does not exceed two 
hundred and fifty thousand dollars shall have paid for building a 
vault or for a safe for the keeping of the records of the town since 
the first day of October, in the year eighteen hundred and eighty- 
nine, then the sum so paid, not exceeding five hundred dollars, 
shall be paid to the town from the treasury of the Commonwealth 
upon presentation of proper vouchers approved by the commissioner 
of public records. 

Fires. 

The annual damage to town records by fires still continues, 
Athol and Rockland in 1890, Orange in 1891, Hull in 1892, 
and Biilerica in 1893 being the sufferers. The fire in Biile- 
rica, early in the morning of November 8, totally destroyed 
the town hall excepting a vault completed early in the year. 
The records, which were in an old safe at the time of the 
inspection in 1891, had been allowed to remain there and 
were badly damaged, all the later volumes, including fine 
copies recently made, having had their leather bindings 
melted off, and the older ones being saturated with water. 
Records and papers which in 1891 were not in the safe had 
been placed in the vault and were uninjured. 



52 REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

Fire-proof Rooms. 

The statutes require that the county commissioners shall 
provide and maintain fire-proof rooms, with suitable alcoves, 
cases, and boxes, for the safe-keeping of all records, files, 
papers and documents belonging to the several registries of 
deeds and probate courts, and suitable places for the safe- 
keeping of the other public records and valuable documents 
belonging to the counties. That there have been no fire- 
proof buildings until very recently is admitted, but while 
many are now built in which fire cannot be communicated 
from one room to another, they do not contain fire-proof 
rooms, inasmuch as the floors, finish, and fixtures are of the 
most inflammable material — kiln-dried wood, oiled or shel- 
lacked, often with electric wires in contact with the wood. 

The new Suffolk County court-house, which should have 
been an example to be followed in the other counties, is a 
notable instance of a so-called fire-proof building without 
fire-proof rooms. There seems to have been no authority 
of law to compel any different construction. 

It is a great surprise to find that many if not most of the 
buildings used as depositories for the county records are left 
without watchmen at night. It would seem that the ordinary 
precaution used by business men to protect their property 
should be exercised in regard to the records, property in 
which every citizen has an interest, and that there should be 
a systematic patrol of these buildings. Legislation to re- 
quire it would seem hardly necessary, but it is hoped that 
this suggestion will be acted upon. 

As a contrast between our carelessness and English care 
in regard to records, the following is interesting and instruc- 
tive. The repository of the English record office is fire-proof 
throughout, i.e., fire could not communicate from one room 
to another. The outer walls are of brick and stone ; each 
room is fitted with iron cases with slate shelves ; there is no 
woodwork in the room except a hinged table fixed to the 
wall ; the ceilings are arched-in brickwork, with iron girders ; 
the staircases, cast iron ; the floors are formed with cast-iron 
or wrought and cast-iron girders and brick arches with hollow 
fire-clay tile paving or concrete filling. The basement floor 



1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 53 

is of Portland stone ; the corridors and hall arc paved with 
stone or tiles on brick arching, and the stairways are stone 
or iron. The casements and skylights are iron, and there 
are wrought-iron doors throughout the building. The roof 
is built with iron girders, boarded and slated. 

Members of the regular police are detailed to patrol the 
building day and night. No fuel can be put on any fires 
after 3 o'clock, and fire guards must be placed before them 
when the room is closed. A policeman visits every room 
containing fireplaces as soon as the office is closed, and must 
examine every part of the building to see that it is secure. 
He must be familiar with all the fire apparatus. No lighted 
candles are allowed, and no one can enter the building under 
any pretence after it is closed for the day. There are fire 
cocks on each floor and an outside supply of water, and a 
fire-hose practice must take place weekly. All furnaces, 
stoves, chimneys, and flues are to be examined, and the 
chimneys and flues swept once a month or oftener if neces- 
sary. One hand engine for twelve men, with one standpipe, 
six lengths of hose, one branch, and five buckets, is kept in 
the yard, and a quarterly test with water is made, such work- 
men as can be spared being employed for the purpose. (This 
seemingly primitive arrangement is probably made with the 
full knowledge that too much water under a heavy pressure 
is nearly as bad as a fire among ancient papers) . 

A full description of the public record office and the rules 
and regulations respecting its use will gladly be shown at 
this office. 

While an abandonment or a whole renovation of the pres- 
ent county buildings is not to be expected, the old faults 
should not be perpetuated in new buildings, and the " suit- 
able place " required for county records should be wholly 
and absolutely fire-proof. The passage of the following act 
is recommended : — ■* 

An Act to provide for fire-proof rooms for county records. 
Be it enacted, etc., as folloivs : 

Section 1. All flooring, finish, shelving or other structure, and 
all cases and boxes hereafter placed or erected in any room pro- 
vided by the county commissioners or other authorized persons for 



54 REPORT ON PUBLIC REGORDS. [Jan. 

the safe-keeping of the records, files, papers, and documents be- 
longing to the several registries of deeds, probate courts, and other 
county offices, shall be of fire-proof material. 

Safes and Vaults. 
Many of the safes procured by the towns are inadequate 
for the records, and some are worthless. The want of a 
definition of records in the statutes has led the selectmen to 
consider that a few volumes of current records were the rec- 
ords, and no provision has been made for keeping anything 
else in a safe. The low price at which an old safe could be 
purchased has led to the buying of worthless ones which 
must be condemned. The only absolute safety for the rec- 
ords in a very hot fire is in a properly constructed vault, 
and the building of these is again strongly urged wherever 
there is a place to locate one. The complaint that vaults 
are always damp is not a valid one, as they can be made dry, 
and kept so if care is taken to place lime in them, as sug- 
gested in the second report, and if they are frequently aired. 
No vault can be dry that is opened only at long intervals. 

Copying and Binding. 

Since 1851 the statutes have required that records which 
were becoming "worn, mutilated, or illegible" should be 
" seasonably" copied, but although most of the records now 
in the condition represented were so then, no one was au- 
thorized to see that copies were made and very few have 
been. Among the copies made few are certified to, and 
many are wholly unreliable. Only expert copyists and 
binders should be entrusted with these old records, and as 
such are few and distant from most of the towns, the recom- 
mendation is repeated that these records be placed in the 
care of this commission for copying and binding. The select- 
men would usually be glad to delegate the work. 

The advantage of canvas binding, which was recommended 
in the second and fourth reports, has again been demon- 
strated by the fire in Billerica, where the leather binding had 
been destroyed by melting and the leaves damaged. No fire 
reached the records, and with canvas bindings they would 
have suffered no other damage than wetting. 






1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 55 

Printing. 

The three following volumes are believed to be all that 
have been printed by cities or towns during the year, al- 
though others are in preparation : — 

Boston. Twenty-third Report of the Record Commissioners, 
containing the Selectmen's Minutes from 1769 through April, 1775. 
Boston, 1893. 

Weston. Town of Weston. Records of the First Precinct, 
1746-1754, and of the Town, 1754-1803. Edited by Mary Francis 
Peirce. Boston, 1893. 

Woburn. Woburn Records of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, 
Part V., Deaths, 1873-1890. Alphabetically and Chronologically 
arranged by Edward F. Johnson. Woburn, 1893. 

Record Inks. 

The necessity for a greater safeguard to the records by the 
use of permanent inks and of the establishment of a State 
standard becomes more and more apparent. Worthless inks 
condemned in the third report are still found in use on the 
records. The recording officers are, however, gradually be- 
coming more careful, and the applications for the third report 
and for the name of the best ink have become so numerous 
as to exhaust the reports. The parts pertaining to ink and 
paper have been reprinted and the following note inserted 
in the pamphlet : — 

The wish has often been expressed that this report had given the 
name of the best ink for records, rather than the names of those 
inks which should not be used. For several reasons that could not 
be done. There are a number of permanent inks on the market, 
and nothing but the test of years would determine the superiority 
of any one. To have singled out one of these as the only ink to be 
used would have been unjust to other manufacturers. Moreover, 
prejudices in regard to inks are very strong, and if an ink that a 
recording officer had condemned had been published as the best 
record ink the whole report would have lost weight and influence 
in his mind. Again, there is a decided preference in regard to the 
color of an ink when used, some wishing a bluish, others a greenish, 
and others a jet black color ; and among the permanent inks there 



56 REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

is a chance for choice without danger to the records, although, 
undoubtedly, the less added color the better. 

The object of the report was : — 

First, to prove that fugitive inks were more common than per- 
manent, and thus to call the attention of the recording officers to 
the danger to which their records were exposed ; to lead them to 
select ink with care, and to care for it when selected, never mixing 
it with others, watering it, or allowing it to freeze. 

Second, to advocate the English system of the establishment by 
the state of a standard of ink for the public records, which stand- 
ard should be presented to the ink manufacturers for proposals to 
supply the necessary quantity, the ink to be subject to chemical 
analysis from time to time by official examining chemists. 

By the courtesy of the Thaddeus Davids Company it has 
been possible to consult a manuscript copy of a paper on 
writing inks read before the Royal Scottish Society of Arts in 
1855 by James Stark, M.D.,F.R.S.E., for which the society's 
silver medal was awarded. He had been experimenting on 
inks since 1842 and had manufactured two hundred and 
twenty-nine inks, besides making many thousand experi- 
ments with different ingredients which were or might be 
used for making inks. Dr. William Lewis, F.R.S., had 
experimented ninety years before and arrived at certain con- 
clusions. Ribaucourt, the French chemist, found the conclu- 
sions of Dr. Lewis wrong and arrived at others, but his inks 
were no more permanent. Dr. Bostoch later attempted to 
solve the problem of a good ink, but was unsuccessful. Dr. 
Stark found most of his experimental inks worthless if per- 
manency was required, and concluded that nutgall and iron 
inks were the most durable and the only ones with which 
legal deeds and documents should be written. He found 
also that such inks might be ruined by the coloring matter 
added. These conclusions are concurred in by the best 
authorities to-day, but the market probably contains more 
inks made of other ingredients than of these, as free flowing 
qualities rather than permanency are looked for by the 
public. 

The recommendation of the passage of the following act 
to establish a State standard recording ink is renewed : — 



-e 



1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 57 



An Act to establish a state standard record ink. 
Be it enacted, etc., as follows: 

Section 1. No person having the care or custody of any book 
of record or registry in any of the departments or offices of the 
Commonwealth shall use or allow to be used upon such books any 
ink excepting such as is furnished by the secretary of the Com- 
monwealth. 

Sect. 2. The secretary of the Commonwealth shall from time 
to time advertise for proposals to furnish the several departments 
and offices of the Commonwealth in which books of record or 
registry are kept with ink of a standard and upon conditions to be 
established by the secretary at such periods and in such quantities 
as may be required, and may contract for the same. 

Sect. 3. The ink so furnished shall be examined from time to 
time by a chemist to be designated by the secretary of the Com- 
monwealth, and if at any time said ink shall be found to be in- 
ferior to the established standard the secretary shall have authority 
to cancel any contract made for furnishing said ink, and the 
quantity so found inferior shall not be paid for. 

Whatever ink is used should not be blotted, and the use of 
blotting paper in the record offices should be discontinued. 
The ink should have time to penetrate the paper. 

It is quite customary for copyists to use red ink in their 
copies, with the explanation that words or parts of sentences 
which could not be read have been supplied in red ink when 
it was apparent what the meaning was. In some original 
records words and figures are written in red ink to give them 
prominence, and the inserting of figures in red ink in plans 
for filing with the records is very common. Believing that 
few if any of the red inks are permanent, such as could be 
found in the market, nineteen in number, were procured and 
submitted to Prof. George F. H. Markoe for examination. 
Tests by exposure to the light and the weather were made 
in this office, the results confirming his report as to their 
fugitiveness. 

As in the previous examination of black ink, the samples 
were numbered, the names not being known. They were 
numbered as follows : — 



58 REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

70. Barnes' National Ink, Carmine. 

71. Arnold's Crimson Fluid. 

72. Davids' Brilliant Scarlet Ink. 

73. Davids' Brilliant Carmine Ink. 

74. Underwood's Chemical Writing Ink, — London Carmine. 

75. Antoine's New Red Writing Ink. 

76. Carter's Fast-red Copying Fluid. 

77. Carter's Crimson Fluid. 

78. Stephens' Brilliant Red Copying Fluid. 

79. H. C. Stephens' Scarlet Ink. 

80. Francis Doane & Co.'s Brilliant Red Ink. 

81. Coleman & Maxwell Writing and Copying Ink, — Perfect 

Carmine. 

82. Red Office Ink. J. & I. E. Moore. 

83. Lyons' Bright Scarlet Ink. 

84. Pomeroy's Brilliant Crimson Ink. 

85. Carmine Ink, — Combined Writing and Copying ; Samuel S. 

Stafford. 

8Q. Morey's Genuine Carmine Ink. 

87. Pomeroy's Brilliant Carmine Ink. 

88. Pomeroy's Bright Scarlet Red Ink. 



His report is as follows : — 



Boston, Dec. 5, 1893. 



Commissioner of Public Records. 

Sir : — I herewith present the report of my tests of the nineteen 
samples of red ink sent to me for analysis. 

Previous to the introduction of the coal-tar colors red inks were 
made mainly from decoctions or infusions of Brazil wood and 
cochineal, or by dissolving carmine (derived from cochineal) by 
the aid of ammonia. The compositions of the old-time red inks 
can be best illustrated by the following formulas : — 

Brazil Wood Ink. — Brazil wood (ground) , 4 ounces ; white vinegar 
(hot), 1\ pints; digest in a glass vessel for twenty-four hours, then 
gently simmer for half an hour, adding toward the end gum-arabic, \ 
ounce, and alum, \ ounce. 

Cochineal Ink. — Cochineal (in powder), 1 ounce; hot water, \ pint; 
digest until cool, then add ammonia water, 1 ounce. Macerate for seven 
days with occasional shaking ; allow the sediment to subside and decant 
the clear ink for use. 

Carmine Ink. — Pure carmine, 20 grains ; water of ammonia, 3 fluid 
ounces ; and gum-arabic, 18 grains. 



1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 59 

Brazil Wood and Cochineal. — Brazil wood, 2 ounces ; alum, \ ounce ; 
cream of tartar, \ ounce ; rain water, 16 fluid ounces. Boil to one-halt, 
strain and add gum-arabic, \ ounce, and tincture of cochineal, 2 fluid 
ounces. 

Of these inks the cochineal and carmine inks are by far the best, 
both in regard to color and to permanence. 

Among the coal-tar colors are a very large number of red dyes, 
ranging in shade from brilliant scarlet to very blue shades of red, 
and at the present time solutions of some of these dyes are very 
extensively used as inks. 

In 1856 W. H. Perkin prepared mauveine, the first aniline dye. 
In 1859 aniline red (magenta, fuchsine) was first made on the 
large scale. During the next five years violet, blue, and green 
coloring matters were invented. In 1874 Baeyer prepared the 
first eosine dye. Since that time a large number of eosines have 
been made, ranging in shade from yellowish red to a deep rose 
color. The eosines are largely employed for making red inks, 
having replaced in great part the cochineal carmine inks. 

A few years later the azo dyes were introduced, among which 
are a large number of very brilliant orange, scarlets, and, indeed, 
every shade of red. Some of these azo reds are so fast to light 
and washing and so brilliant in color that they have practically 
replaced cochineal in the same way that artificial alizarine has 
replaced madder, the cultivation of which plant was a great agri- 
cultural industry. The coloring principle of madder root, known 
as alizarine, is now made artificially, in a pure state, for one- 
fourth the price of what it was in the form of madder. 

The popular idea is that the so-called " aniline dyes " are far 
inferior to the animal and vegetable dyestuffs with respect to fast- 
ness. It is quite true that the artificial colors first introduced were 
very fugitive, but at the present time we possess a large number 
of coal-tar colors which are just as fast and often faster than the 
natural ones. 

By proper selection a red ink can be made from a coal-tar red 
dye which will be quite equal to the much more expensive cochi- 
neal or carmine ink. 

The examples examined can be divided into four classes. The 
specific gravity shows the amount of added matter, water being 
given at 1,000. 



60 



REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. 



[Jan. 



Classification. 
I. Eosine. 



Numbers. 


Specific 
Gravity. 


Remarks. 


70, ... . 


1.009 




72, . . 




1.007 




74, . 




1.005 




75, . 




1.014 


Ropy. 


76, . . 




1.010 


Bluish red ; carbolized. 


77, . . 




1.011 


Carbolized. 


78, . . 




1.070 


Bluish red ; sugar or glycerine, and 
strongly carbolized. 


79, . 




1.019 




80, . 




1.006 




81, . 




1.010 




82, . 




1.007 




83, . 




1.007 




84, . 




1.012 




85, . 




1.010 


Fungous. 


86, . 




1.003 


Very weak ; fungous. 



The above inks are solutions of eosine, of the variety known 
as yellowish shade, with the exception of Nos. 76 and 78, 
which are of bluish eosine. No. 78 contains a large quantity of 
sugar or glycerine, to which its high specific gravity is due, and 
this addition makes it copy well. The others showing high spe- 
cific gravity have similar additions. A few drops of any of these 
inks added to a tumbler full of water shows a very marked yellowish 
green florescence. Nos. 76 and 78 show only a faint florescence 
in water, but the addition of a little ammonia makes it more evi- 
dent. This behavior is characteristic of some bluish red eosines. 

The commercial eosines vary greatly in quality, strength, and 
price. The cheaper grades often contain large quantities of dex- 
trine. The eosines are all fugitive colors, and therefore " eosine 
inks " are unfit for making permanent records. From five to ten 
grains of eosine in a fluid ounce of soft water will fairly represent 
these inks. To prevent their tendency to mould, carbolic acid has 
been added to some. 

II. Magenta. 



Number. 


Specific 
Gravity. 


Remarks. 


71, ... . 


0.999 


Crimson shade. 



1894.] 



HOUSE — No. 2, 



61 



This sample proved to be a solution of magenta (fuchsine, ani- 
line red) in a mixture of water and alcohol. The bottle contained 
a little sediment. Fuchsine is a cheap and very strong coloring 
matter, and hence will admit of the production of a very low cost 
red ink. Fuchsine is, however, fugitive, and hence its solution is 
unfit for a permanent record. 



III.. Carmine. 



Numbers. 


Specific 
Gravity. 


Remarks. 


73, ... . 

87, ... 


1.001 
1.001 


Ammoniacal, slightly ropy. 
Strongly ammoniacal ; carbolized. 



These two samples are solutions of carmine (which is made from 
cochineal) in water containing ammonia. Carmine will not dis- 
solve in water without the aid of ammonia. Carmine is a very 
fast color, and is one of the very best materials for making red 
ink, but it will ultimately fade. 

IY. Azo. 



Specific 
Gravity. 



1.006 



One of the most important series of the coal-tar colors is the so- 
called azo dyes, among which are a great variety of reds of every 
shade. The scarlet and carmine shades have in a great degree 
replaced cochineal in wool dyeing, the colors being equally fast to 
light and washing. One of the difficulties in using most of the 
coal-tar colors is the fact that unless the solutions are quite weak 
the writing on drying is likely to show a metallic reflection ; thus 
magenta in strong solution writes with a peculiar metallic green 
reflection, like that of the Brazilian beetle. 

In conclusion, I have to report that all the samples submitted 
for analysis prove to be more or less fugitive. In point of fact, 
we do not possess a permanent red ink. 

In answer to your inquiry with regard to a permanent blue ink, 
I have to say that I regard a Prussian blue ink as the best for pur- 
poses of record, but as the tendency to decompose is strong, in 



62 REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

which case the pigmentary substance settles, great care should be 
taken to see that the decomposition has not taken place. Although 
the sediment may diffuse itself upon shaking, the ink has been 
permanently ruined. 

GEORGE F. H. MARKOE, Ph.G., 

Professor, Theory and Practice of Pharmacy, 

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. 

Manufacturers are calling attention to certain inks and 
requesting an examination, and, if possible, an official en- 
dorsement. Examination under these circumstances would 
be valueless, as the samples might have been prepared for 
the purpose, and if endorsements were to be given, fairness 
would necessitate examining all samples offered. Such re- 
quests have been refused. Nevertheless, agents for certain 
ink manufacturers are from time to time reported as claim- 
ing that their inks have been submitted to this office for 
examination, and have been pronounced permanent or as 
the most permanent examined. The first statement is incor- 
rect unless the ink was reported upon as permanent in the 
first report, and the second statement is absolutely false. 
No examinations of black inks or fluids have been made 
except as reported therein, excepting one made at the re- 
quest of several recording officers, and the ink then exam- 
ined was found to be fugitive. 

It is believed that some of the permanent inks which have 
acquired a reputation are being counterfeited. That they 
have been is a well-known fact. 

Another danger to the records has appeared in the use of 
rubber stamps, some of the recording officers having adopted 
them for inserting dates, or the town or city name. It has 
become the custom in some places to stamp legal forms on 
the records, such as the discharge of a mortgage, to which 
the recording officer attaches his signature ; and legal docu- 
ments bear stamped forms of attestation or certification. 
The colors used in the stamping pads are mostly aniline and 
permanency is not claimed for most of them, and those for 
which permanency was claimed have faded upon exposure 
to the light. The wetting of pages bearing impressions 
made with certain colors would be disastrous. 



1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. G3 

Additional Recommendations. 
In addition to the several acts proposed under the several 
headings, the passage of the following act to supply defects 
and deficiencies in chapter 37 of the Public Statutes is rec- 
ommended : — 

An Act in relation to the public records of cities and towns, 
and fixing the terms of office of city and town clerks. 

Section 1. The word records shall mean all books of public 
record or registry made in the handwriting of the person or per- 
sons required to keep records, or of persons authorized by them to 
keep records, or made with a type-writer and attested in the hand- 
writing of said first named person or persons, and all copies of the 
same made by order of a city or town ; all papers which are re- 
quired to be filed with any city or town officer or board of officers, 
and all maps and plans made in conjunction with any of the public 
work of a city or town. 

Sect. 2. City governments and selectmen shall provide, at the 
expense of their respective cities and towns, fire-proof rooms, 
vaults, or safes of ample size for the preservation of all records 
belonging to such cities or towns, and the clerk of each city and 
town, except as otherwise provided, shall keep in such fire-proof 
rooms, vaults, or safes all such records at all times except when 
they are wanted for use. 

Sect. 3. The records of every city or town shall be open for 
public inspection and examination under the supervision of the 
officer having the custody of the same, or of some person duly 
authorized by him to exhibit them. And said officer shall, on pay- 
ment of a reasonable fee therefor, compare and certify all copies 
properly and correctly made. 

Sect. 4. The selectmen of every town shall cause a permanent 
record book to be kept, in which all their votes, orders, and pro- 
ceedings shall be recorded. 

Sect. 5. City governments and selectmen shall have all books 
of public record belonging to their respective cities or towns sub- 
stantially bound. When any of said records are becoming worn, 
mutilated, or illegible they shall have the same seasonably reno- 
vated and repaired, and shall have fair "and legible copies season- 
ably made. And for the purpose of said renovating and repairing 
or copying, they may cause said records to be placed in the cus- 
tody of the Commissioner of Public Records, who shall have such 
renovating and repairing or copying done at the expense of their 
respective cities or towns. 



64 REPORT ON PUBLIC RECORDS. [Jan. 

Sect. 6. The persons employed by county commissioners, city 
governments, or selectmen to make authorized copies of any 
records under the provisions of this act, or of chapter 37 of the 
Public Statutes, shall be sworn to the faithful discharge of their 
duties, and shall certify the copies made by them as aforesaid. 
Any such authorized copies heretofore made shall be certified under 
oath by the copyist or by any person employed by said county com- 
missioners, city governments, or selectmen for that purpose. 

Sect. 7. At the annual meeting held in every town in the year 
eighteen hundred and ninety-four, and every third year thereafter, 
there shall be a town clerk elected who shall serve for the term of 
three years, and who shall, during his term of office, except as 
hereinafter provided, be the clerk of all boards of town officers, 
but shall not be a member of any. 

Sect. 8. The clerk of every town shall receive annually a salary 
of one hundred dollars, to be paid by the Commonwealth in equal 
quarterly payments ; and in addition thereto shall receive ten cents 
per capita of the population as given by the last preceding census, 
either State or United States, and such additional sum as the town 
shall vote to be paid him in equal quarterly payments by said town. 

If a town shall be divided, or any part shall be set off to a city 
or to another town or other towns, the clerk of either town may 
request the assessors of the cities or towns whose population is 
affected by such changes to make an estimate of the population of 
said towns as then constituted, and the assessors aforesaid shall 
forthwith make such estimate, and the part of the salary of the 
clerks of said towns to be paid by said towns shall then be calcu- 
lated upon this estimate until the next census shall fix the popu- 
lation of said towns. 

Sect. 9. All fees heretofore payable to the town clerks shall be 
collected by them and paid to the treasurer of their respective 
towns on or before the tenth day of each month. 

Sect. 10. The town clerk shall record all votes passed at the 
meeting at which he is elected, and at all other meetings held 
during his continuance in office, and all reports of committees 
presented at any of such meetings which are not by statute or 
town by-laws required to be printed, and keep such records as 
the several boards of town officers are by statute required to keep, 
except as provided in section thirteen of this chapter. 

Sect. 11. It shall be the duty of city and town clerks to prose- 
cute in an action of tort, in the name of their respective cities and 
towns, for the recovery of any penalty or forfeiture imposed by 
sections two and three of chapter thirty-two of the Public Statutes 
or any amendment thereof. 

Sect. 12. The selectmen of every town shall provide an office 



1894.] HOUSE — No. 2. 65 

for the use of the town clerk, and shall also provide a sign with 
the name of the town followed by the words " town clerk's oflice," 
in plain characters thereon, with sufficient board space immediately 
below for posting thereon the legal notices required by law to be 
posted in towns, which sign and board space shall be placed and 
kept on or at the outside of the front door of the office of every 
town clerk, and said board shall always be one of the public places 
upon which any such legal notice may be posted. 

Sect. 13. In any city or town in which the several boards or 
departments shall have separate offices for the deposit of their 
records and transaction of business, each of such boards or depart- 
ments may elect or appoint a person to be secretary or clerk of 
such board or department, who shall keep a record of all votes, 
orders or proceedings of such board or department, and such 
person shall be the custodian of their records, and keep them in 
fire-proof rooms, vaults, or safes, as hereinbefore provided. The 
treasurer of any city or town having such separate office shall be 
the custodian of his records and shall keep them in fire-proof 
rooms, vaults, or safes as hereinbefore provided. 

Sect, 14. The books, reports, and laws furnished to cities and 
towns shall, except when placed in a public library, as provided in 
section eleven of chapter forty of the Public Statutes, be kept in 
the custody of the city or town clerk, or by some person duly 
authorized by him to keep the same. Said books, reports, and laws 
shall be kept in the bookcases provided therefor at all times when 
not in use. 

Sect. 15. Any records of a city or town which have been left 
incomplete shall be made up and completed from the files and 
usual memoranda as far as possible, by the city or town clerk, or 
by the secretary or clerk of the board or department to which said 
records respectively belong. 

Sect. 16. Beginning with the year eighteen hundred and 
ninety-four, city clerks shall hold office for the term of three 
years. 

Sect. 17. Every city and town, for each month it neglects or 
refuses to perform any duty required by this chapter, shall forfeit 
twenty dollars. Every city or town clerk, and every clerk or 
secretary of a board or department as provided herein, or other 
person who neglects or refuses to perform any such duty shall 
forfeit for each offence ten dollars. 

Sect. 18. The word town in this act shall not include cities. 

Sect. 19. All acts and parts of acts inconsistent herewith are 
hereby repealed. 

EOBERT T. SWAN, 

Commissioner, 



INDEX TO SUBJECTS. 



PAGE 

Introduction, 3_6 

General Information on Records, . ...... 7-11 

Town Records, 11-33 

Assessors' Records, 33-36 

Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 36-40 

Proprietors' Records, . . . . . . . . . 40, 41 

Parish and Church Records, ....... 41-43 

Value of Records, . . 43,44 

Condition of the Records, ........ 44, 45 

Accumulation of Records and Papers, 45-47 

Rebellion Record, . 47 

Town Clerks, 47-49 

Recording Officers, 49 

Town Halls, 49,50 

State Aid to Towns, 50, 51 

Fires, . 51 

Fire-proof Rooms, 52-54 

Safes and Vaults, . 54 

Copying and Binding, 54 

Printing, 55 

Record Inks, 55_62 

Additional Recommendations, 63-65